AP

Men charged with defrauding Florida school shooter’s brother

Oct 6, 2022, 1:50 AM | Updated: 3:59 pm

FILE - Nexus Services President Mike Donovan speaks at a rally in Falls Church, Va., on Aug. 15, 20...

FILE - Nexus Services President Mike Donovan speaks at a rally in Falls Church, Va., on Aug. 15, 2019, to respond to a lawsuit alleging his company charges excessive fees to help detained immigrants obtain bail as they await hearings in immigration court. The head of a Virginia company accused of exploiting immigration detainees has now been charged with defrauding the brother of Florida school shooter Nicholas Cruz. Donovan was arrested Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Barakat Matthew, File)

(AP Photo/Barakat Matthew, File)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — The head of a Virginia company accused of exploiting immigration detainees seeking bail has now been charged with defrauding the brother of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz.

The Augusta County Sheriff’s Office said Mike Donovan, the CEO of Nexus Services in Verona, Virginia, was arrested Wednesday after being indicted on fraud charges. The indictment states that the victim is Zachary Cruz, 22, who for several years has lived with Donovan and his spouse, Richard Moore, in Fishersville.

Moore, who is a part owner and executive with Nexus, and three others are also facing charges along with Donovan.

Donovan denies that Cruz has been defrauded. He said the charges are retaliation for efforts he has undertaken to expose corruption in the sheriff’s office and hold it accountable for two police shootings last year.

“I want to go to a jury. I will call witnesses and expose these people,” Donovan said in a phone interview Thursday.

Donovan and Moore took Zachary Cruz in nearly four years ago. Donovan said he became acquainted with Zachary Cruz after learning he was facing $500,000 bail on a trespassing charge for skateboarding at the high school where the shootings occurred.

After getting to know him, they offered him a home in Virginia and Donovan said he considers Cruz to be part of the family.

“When you see what he’s gone through, and what he’s been able to accomplish, it’s pretty inspiring,” Donovan said.

He said he’s offended by authorities’ suggestion that Zachary Cruz is mentally incapable of making his own decisions.

A search warrant affidavit filed in May 2021 states that Shenandoah Valley Social Services launched an investigation last year after receiving a report that Zachary Cruz was being financially exploited by Donovan and Moore.

The affidavit alleged that Cruz lacked the mental capacity to make his own financial judgements, even though he is an adult, and that a $428,000 inheritance he received after his mother’s death was transferred into other accounts.

Donovan said federal prosecutors investigated those allegations and exonerated him. He said that at this point, the inheritance money is spent and that Donovan and Moore are essentially supporting Cruz financially with a weekly stipend.

The county sheriff’s office did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.

Cruz could not be reached for comment Thursday. His attorney, Amina Matheny Willard, who also represents Donovan, denied that Cruz has been victimized by his new family.

Last year the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three states, including Virginia, sued Donovan and his company, alleging that a subsidiary — Libre by Nexus — has exploited immigrant detainees by charging excessive fees to get them released on bail while they await hearings. That lawsuit is ongoing.

Donovan has vociferously defended his conduct. He says his company has helped tens of thousands of immigrants avoid prolonged detention while they await adjudication in a broken immigration system.

Zachary’s older brother, Nikolas Cruz, pleaded guilty last year to fatally shooting 14 students and three staff members at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

A sentencing trial is currently ongoing to determine whether Nikolas Cruz will receive the death penalty. Defense lawyers have argued that Nikolas Cruz suffered brain damage because his birth mother drank during pregnancy.

Zachary Cruz is two years younger and has the same birth mother. Both were adopted and grew up together in Parkland. Testimony during the trial has highlighted the boys’ unstable family life.

Zachary Cruz had been listed as a defense witness but was not called to testify.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is sworn-in before the House Committee on Hom...

the MyNorthwest Staff with wire reports

Senate dismisses two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security secretary, ends trial

The Senate dismissed impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as Republicans pushed to remove him.

13 hours ago

idaho gender-affirming care...

Associated Press

Supreme Court allows Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth

The Supreme Court is allowing Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth while lawsuits over the law proceed.

2 days ago

Image: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the press in Manhattan state court in New York City ...

Associated Press

Trump’s hush money trial gets underway; 1st day ends without any jurors selected

The historic hush money trial of Donald Trump got underway Monday with the arduous process of selecting a jury to hear the case.

2 days ago

Photo: Israeli Iron Dome air defense system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran, in cent...

Tia Goldenberg and Josef Federman, The Associated Press

Israel is quiet on next steps against Iran — and on which partners helped shoot down missiles

On Sunday, Israel's leaders credited an international military coalition with helping thwart a direct attack from Iran.

3 days ago

Early phases of Iran's drone attack against Israel. (Photo: Getty Images)...

Associated Press

The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel

Iran launched its first full-scale military attack against Israel on Saturday, sending drones toward Israel.

5 days ago

Early phases of Iran's drone attack against Israel. (Photo: Getty Images)...

Associated Press

BREAKING: White House confirms Iran drone attacks towards Israel

JERUSALEM (AP) — The White House says it will provide unspecified support for Israel’s defense against an ongoing airborne attack from Iran. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a Saturday statement that “Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel.” She added: “The United States will stand with the people of Israel and […]

5 days ago

Men charged with defrauding Florida school shooter’s brother