Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A $12 million charity fraud

by Gary Snyder

It purports to be a charity that provides assistance to injured Texas highway patrol troopers and the families of those who have died in the line of duty. Telemarketers claimed that 100 percent of donations went to provide assistance. 

Unfortunately that is not the case for the Texas Highway Patrol Association.
In fact, less than 1 percent of donations helped troopers and their families, while the balance was spent on salaries and expenses that included cigars, liquor, meals, personal travel, luxury car leases and even a veterinarian bill for a cat. The organization had raised nearly $12 million between 2004 and 2009. It gave only $63,500 to troopers and their families.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott charged the nonprofit, which has no official connection to the Texas Department of Public Safety or the highway patrol, with fraud for misspending millions of dollars in donations raised from telemarketing operations.

Board members of the supposed charity, who are themselves current and former Department of Public Safety officers, claim the group's senior staff and attorney kept them in the dark about its shady operations. A new lawyer representing most of the troopers said that they didn't have backgrounds that prepared them to carry out the fiduciary responsibilities of a nonprofit organization. At a February meeting in which they fired the organization's top employees and its former legal counsel the board agreed to hand over more than $1.2 million in assets to a court-appointed receiver. (link)

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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