"deputy Sheriff's Benevolent Association" Agrees To Change Misleading Name

State Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with a Putnam County organization which solicits donations from the public and whose name creates the false impression that it represents deputy sheriffs in the county. In actuality, the organization represents correctional officers and other workers at the county jail, and has no deputy sheriffs as members.

The agreement with the not-for-profit Putnam County Deputy Sheriff's Association, Inc. requires the organization to change its name within 90 days. The new name must not: contain the words "deputy sheriff;" suggest that the organization has deputy sheriffs as members; or suggest that contributions will be used for the benefit of deputy sheriffs.

"Because the organization has no deputy sheriffs as members, the name of the Putnam County Deputy Sheriff's Benevolent Association is inherently misleading," Spitzer said. "Members of the public who donate to this group have a right to know who they are supporting. I am pleased that the organization acting of behalf of correctional workers has agreed to use a name that does not misrepresent the nature of its membership."

Until the late 1990's, deputy sheriffs and correctional workers in Putnam were members of the same labor bargaining unit. However, at that time the deputy sheriffs formed their own collective bargaining unit, known as the Putnam County Sheriff's Department Police Benevolent Association, Inc. After the split, the correctional workers continued to use the name Putnam County Deputy Sheriff's Benevolent Association.

The Attorney General's investigation began after two employees of a professional fundraiser hired by the Putnam County Deputy Sheriff's Benevolent Association were arrested by the Putnam County Sheriff's Department in May 2003 on charges of impersonating members of the sheriff's department while soliciting donations. Criminal impersonation charges against the two are pending.

In addition to agreeing to change its name, the PCDSBA has agreed to affirmatively disclose to potential donors that contributions to the organization are not tax deductible.

The case was handled by Gary S. Brown, Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Westchester Regional Office.