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BEREA -- A North Royalton man is accused of stealing from the dead.

Police arrested him after money raised to pay for funeral expenses disappeared. Stephanie Johnson and "Santi" are heartbroken.

Back in September, their dear friend -- J-Z -- died in a motorcycle accident.

"He was just always there for you, someone who would be there forever," said Santi.

To help the family pay for the funeral and headstone, Stephanie and Santi arranged a benefit back in October at Scoundrels in Berea.

They say they raised close to $12,000. They entrusted someone who they thought was a friend to pay for the expenses.

But they say the bills went unpaid.

"To have to deal with someone coming in and pretending to be your friend, console you and help you, and then turn around and take everything to help someone who has passed on, is awful," said Johnson.

They say they suspect Nathan Vapenik.

In a Facebook response, Vapenik wrote, "I have it in my safe at my house." But Stephanie and Santi have yet to see a dime.

"Not only did he hurt all of us, he hurt 300 people in the process. Some people didn't even have a house to go home to but they came to the benefit and donated," said Santi.

Stefanie and Santi don't know where the money went. They just want it back where it belongs.

"I just want a friend to rest in peace. I don't want to see this happen again to anybody. I want him to be stopped," said Johnson.

Vapenik is charged with theft and aggregated theft.

He goes before a judge in Cuyahoga County on Monday.

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