‘Lights for Layla’ creator pleads guilty, will serve six months in jail

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Randi Romanoff (Credit: LCSO booking photo)

A Cape Coral woman accused of misusing money donated for lights after a Lee County student was killed at a bus stop has pleaded guilty.

Randi Romanoff will serve 180 days in jail in addition to more than eight years on probation.

Romanoff was arrested in September of 2020 after she set up a nonprofit in the name of Layla Aiken, an 8-year-old girl killed by a car at her school bus stop in Cape Coral.

The nonprofit Lights for Laya generated more than $72,000 that donors believed would go toward helping improve bus stop safety.

Some of the funds went to the Aiken family; other funds were used for beach resorts, toll violations, and retail shopping that included an Xbox.

Romanoff has also been ordered to pay off $20,000 in restitution. About $4,000 will go toward the people who contributed to the cause while another $16,000 will go toward Valerie’s House, a nonprofit that helps children deal with grief.

Lee County Judge J Frank Porter said he wouldn’t have accepted the plea deal if it didn’t include jail time.

“I’ll just be upfront with you. If the negotiated plea had not included jail time I would not have accepted it,” Porter said.  “What you did was horrible. The people of the community, when they see the GoFundMe accounts and people are in need and someone is trying to help them and they donate and something like this occurs it makes people not want to give in the future to someone else. That’s on your conscience.”

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.