Wisconsin woman charged with pocketing Honor Flight donations

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a Wisconsin woman with pocketing tens of thousands of dollars in donations meant for a program that flies veterans to Washington, D.C.

Joni Nogay of Cudahy was charged June 22 with felony theft in a business setting of between $10,000 and $100,000. She could face up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines if she is convicted. She made her initial court appearance Thursday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

According to a criminal complaint, Nogay ran We Run — They Fly, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit that collects donations for Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, a program that provides veterans with flights to Washington to see military memorials. The organization raised money for the program through local fundraisers and an annual 5K run in Milwaukee.

Nogay, 60, collected more than $100,000 in donations from 2013 to 2023 but deposited most of the money in her personal accounts, prosecutors allege. She made just five donations to the honor flight program during that seven-year span totaling just under $20,000, according to the complaint.

Nogay didn’t enter a plea at her court appearance. Court Commissioner Grace Flynn ordered her to report to the Milwaukee County jail to be booked and released by 5 p.m. Sunday. If she fails to appear, an arrest warrant will be issued.

Nogay’s attorney, Daniel Morgan Adams, told the Journal Sentinel that she’s “dead set on making everyone harmed in this controversy whole.”

“Joni Nogay had every intention of being a community servant, and one thing led to another,” he said. “She is ready to make good on this situation. (The court appearance) is the first step of many for her to make right in the community.”