TRAVELERS REST, S.C. (WSPA) – The founder of a non-profit accused of selling untrained service dogs for children with autism is now filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy rather than Chapter 13, as he had originally filed.
Court documents filed by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein show Mark Mathis, the founder of Ry-Con, spent at least $62,000 of money from the non-profit on personal expenses.
The attorney general’s office has received at least 52 complaints about Ry-Con, which closed abruptly last Fall.
Anna Ruttinger of Travelers Rest said she paid about $10,000 for Bishop, or “Hop,” to be a service dog for her son Acculis, who is on the autism spectrum. She said she picked the dog up just a few weeks into his training because the business was closing, and she wouldn’t be able to get her money back.
“I just really wish we could have had him for what he was supposed to be…not just a pet,” Ruttinger said.
She said Hop would have been finishing up his training around now.
“He’d be going to school with Acculis and helping him out there and giving him the support he needed,” she said.
She said she’s spent thousands of dollars on training, but he’s no where near being an actual service dog.
“That looks like it would be non-existent,” Ruttinger said.
Ruttinger is one of dozens of people who have filed complaints about Ry-Con with the North Carolina attorney general’s office.
Now, the attorney general disputed Ry-Con’s Chapter 13 claim– that type of bankruptcy would have had Mathis making gradual payments to customers who want their money back.
“Maybe $500 a piece, but that’s nothing compared to what any of us have paid,” Ruttinger said.
In court records, the attorney general said Mathis made false promises and used at least $62,000 of Ry-Con’s money for personal expenses, such as groceries, clothes, and vacations.
“So, you just wanted a vacation on my dime?” Ruttinger said.
Because of that, the attorney general argues that Mathis is an alter ego for Ry-Con and should be held personally responsible.
Now, Mathis’ bankruptcy case has been changed to Chapter 7. A bankruptcy attorney told 7 News that means Mathis’ assets could be sold to pay people back if he is found to have de-frauded them.
“Trying to collect would be a uphill battle unless they had the assistance of the attorney general’s office,” said bankruptcy attorney Daniel Stone. “That could be a game changer.”
Mathis did return 7 News’ request for comment. His attorney declined to comment.