Charity organizer accused of hoax

Not even the investigating officer knows just how deep the rabbit hole goes in the case of a charity event gone awry.

Karen Gillespie, 44, got local businesses, law enforcement and even an air ambulance together at Burlington Square Mall on June 28 for an event billed as Community Awareness Day.

The problem is that the North Star Foundation, the group Gillespie was supposedly representing, doesn't exist as a nonprofit in North Carolina, at least according to the Internal Revenue Service's Web site. Gillespie, who lives in Whitsett, has been charged with writing worthless checks and obtaining property under false pretenses.

Police say she conned at least 100 people into giving her money or donating their services.

“She claimed that it is a foundation and it is legit, but she never could provide any information about it,” Officer Tanya Taylor said. She and other Burlington police officers worked the event by escorting a parade down International Street and setting up a booth.

“We were excited about the cause and helping out with the foundation until we found out it was a hoax,” Taylor added.

Although Gillespie seemed legitimate, authorities said she didn't keep her story straight. She reportedly told some people her charity fought child abuse and others that it was to combat children's cancer.