FOWLER, Ind. (WLFI) — Katherine Jenkins' life changed the morning of March 5 after she arrived at work.
Jenkins had been manager at Treasure on Pallets in Lafayette for nearly a year when it was raided by police.
"I see cops in the parking lot but I didn't think anything of it," she says. "When I stuck the key into the door, that's when I realized they were there for Treasure on Pallets."
Police seized inventory, receipts, invoices and cash as part of a long-term investigation into the business owners, Fran and Menashi Cohen.
As News 18 previously reported, the Cohens are defendants in a civil suit filed by the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor's Office alleging a pattern of racketeering, including money laundering, theft, forgery and perjury.
"I would never suspect in a million years that something like that would be happening," Jenkins says.
Jenkins says she met Menashi Cohen when she was homeless and in active drug addiction, and she saw him as a father figure.
"He told me, 'When you get your life together, come see me.' So I did," she says. "He believed in me when I couldn't even believe in myself. That's what hurts the most."
She became manager at Treasure on Pallets, a liquidation business selling overstock inventory, with plans to open another store in Fowler.
"Before he could close on this building, his stuff got seized, so that left me jobless," Jenkins says.
A family friend came forward to purchase the building, anyway, making Jenkins the co-owner of Treasure on Palletz in Fowler. Although it shares a similar name, business model and much of the same clientele as the former store in Lafayette, she says it's not affiliated with the Cohens.
Jenkins says she started from scratch after the raid with all new inventory. She says she wanted to maintain relationships with customers who affectionately knew her as "the pallet lady."
"They know me as Kat from Treasure on Pallets ... and I have nothing to hide so I didn't feel like making a drastic name change was necessary," she says.
She shares the building with Kathy Matson, owner of Connecting Visions, a local pantry and charity. They met at the former Lafayette location and Matson says God connected them for this new endeavor.
"There was a reason that we came together and this is exactly what we need to be doing," Matson says. "The Treasure on Palletz, it's going to be a success, there's no doubt about it in my mind."
Jenkins and Matson are urging anyone in need or anyone who would like to donate to visit the store. It's located at 300 South Grant Avenue in Fowler and is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
News 18 reached out to attorneys representing the Cohens but they declined to comment.