Judge accepts Randi Romanoff’s plea deal for 6-month jail stay in ‘Light’s for Laya’ fraud case

Published: January 3, 2022 9:56 AM EST
Updated: January 3, 2022 6:30 PM EST

Judge J. Frank Porter officially accepted a plea deal taken by a Cape Coral woman accused of misusing money donated for lights after a Lee County student was killed at a bus stop.

Randi Romanoff agreed to serve 180 days in jail in addition to more than eight years on probation. She has also been ordered to pay off $20,000 in restitution of which $16,000 will go to Valerie’s House non-profit. She will also serve 54 months of 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, but while some of the funds went to the Aiken family, some were used for beach resorts, toll violations, and retail shopping.

Porter previously 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.”