Portland woman reacts after former president of foster care agen - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland woman reacts after former president of foster care agency indicted for money laundering

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Give Us This Day building in Portland (KPTV) Give Us This Day building in Portland (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A Portland woman is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a foster care agency and using the money to live a lavish lifestyle.

A federal grand jury has indicted 56-year-old Mary Holden Ayala with money laundering and filing false tax returns.

Ayala served as president and executive director of Give Us This Day, a private foster care agency and residential program for hard-to-place foster children.

FOX 12 spoke with one of the girls who used to live at the foster care agency. She says she always questioned why getting necessities at Give Us This Day was harder than ones she had been in before.

"It was nice looking, but when it came to stuff you needed, they didn't have it," said Jamaica Pledger.

The home where Give Us This Day used to be is now empty, waiting to be knocked down and turned into skinny homes.

A promotional video for the agency is filled with stories from staff and foster girls themselves.

Pledger says that promo video, taken when she was about 15 years old, was far from the truth.

"For that they told us that if you say nice things we'll take you out to eat," said Pledger.

A nice dinner that Pledger, now a mom of two, never saw. But not because the agency didn't have the money, she says it's because the cash was being spent elsewhere.

"One of the girls asked, 'how come she always had nice things,' and [Ayala] said, 'it's because Mercy's father was Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson,'" Pledger said.

A grand jury in Mississippi indicted Ayala on Tuesday, saying she embezzled upwards of $800,000.

Pledger says she saw first hand how Ayala was spending that money.

"It was always the bigger stores, not like Ross and stuff, it was the name brand stuff," Pledger said. "Mary had an Infinity, a really nice Infinity, and you know, if she backed up into something, she'd immediately get it fixed," said Pledger.

While the agency's director seemed to be living "the good life," the foster care girls went without necessities. Pledger says sometimes, they didn't even have toilet paper.

"Everything was from Dollar Tree, and it was like new sheets and stuff they needed and they would never get things," said Pledger.

After the FBI investigated the agency, it closed its doors in 2015.

Since then, Pledger has started a new life elsewhere. And with two kids of her own, she sees how important it is to provide the necessities to live a good life.

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