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Family Dispute Arises Over GoFundMe Campaigns

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - When a Dallas man's legs were crushed by a hit-and-run driver last week, the community came together with thousands of dollars in donations.

But those donations are tearing apart those closest to him with threats of legal action and accusations of fraud in the fray.

Joey Salas, 42, endured another surgery Monday to prevent the amputation of his legs. But he says he's more worried that the donations he's receiving are getting into the wrong hands.

"I don't understand why everybody's coming at me like a rich old guy," says Salas, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

He was leaving an Oak Cliff restaurant in his wheelchair last week when he was run down by a pickup truck that took off.

The terrible incident and Salas' ensuing hospitalization led to two separate GoFundMe pages set up in his name.

One was created by Salas' fiancée, Francesca Olivera. The other one, which raised $21,000 before it went offline, was created by his sister Angie.

But Joey says his family can't be trusted with his care, nor can they be trusted to properly appropriate funds meant for him.

Salas posted the following Monday night on the GoFundMe created by his fiancée:

"It was deleted after I reported it was made without my consent. My immediate family fails to see me as a regular human being. They only see a wheelchair and hear my speech as a mental impairment. I am very capable to speak and think for myself. Thank you everyone for your support."

"He did feel as if he's being taken advantage of," says Olivera. "He saw what was being done behind his back."

But Joey's sister who set up the account along with his other sister, his aunt and father deny that.

"He's not in any danger," said Salas' Aunt, Nellie Sheehan. "Angie did this out of genuine concern over her brother as something he might need."

Now Salas and Olivera say they may take legal action to gain control of his sister's account, which the family says GoFundMe has frozen.

A spokesperson for GoFundMe emailed CBS11 the following statement:

"We are in touch with the campaign organizers for both GoFundMe campaigns. Funds have not been withdrawn, and we are working with all parties to ensure Joey receives the funds raised on his behalf."

Salas has also blocked his family from visiting him in the hospital.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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