Sunday, July 10, 2011

Stars Are Not Immune to Charity Fraud

by Gary Snyder

Over the years, the 9/11 charity "Stars, Stripes and Skates" claims through its tax filings to have raise $746,236 in revenue. Over that eight year period, an analysis of ticket prices and venue sizes shows that as much as $2.1 million might have rolled in through ticket sales alone. The amount of money generated remains murky. The charity drew the likes of Nancy Kerrigan, Sasha Cohen, Sarah Hughes, Viktor Petrenko, Nicole Bobek, Philippe Candeloro and Todd Eldridge.

The organizer even milked the parents of 800 young performers for thousands of dollars each in the name of the tragedy. "Stars, Stripes and Skates" made a big deal about it -- that it was going to the victims," said Laura Nelson, whose daughter skated at the inaugural event in 2002 at Madison Square Garden.

Founder Tara Modlin confessed she blew all the cash on producing the events -- and spent not one penny on the cause. The IRS yanked its tax-exempt status last month after it failed to file annual reports for three consecutive years. She also shelled out another $50,000 on unnamed consultants one of which was her best friend. The group's mission seemed to change as frequently as a sequined skater's costume.

Lee Ielpi, who lost his firefighter son Jonathan on 9/11, name was used on tax documents as president even though Ielpi explicitly told Modlin that he did not want to be involved with the charity.

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, ,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more • Nonprofits: On the Brink (iUniverse, 2006)
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