Monroe County Man Cited For Charities Fraud
Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office has obtained a court order against a Monroe County man who convinced local business owners to donate to a fake charity, and then used the proceeds for personal purposes.
Theodore Edward Duell, Sr., who operated under the name Veteran Helping Veterans, consented to the court decree that bans him from charitable soliciting, telemarketing and door to door sales and orders him to pay over $11,000 in restitution, civil penalties and costs.
"Charities fraud injures the donating public and undermines the integrity of the entire non-profit sector," Spitzer said. "My office will take aggressive action against those who defraud the public with false solicitations."
Spitzers office commenced an investigation into Duell after being tipped off by a former employer, a professional solicitation company, that believed Duell had stolen information about prospective donors and started his own fundraising business.
Appearing at such popular places as the Rochester Public Market and the Vietnam Memorial in Highland Park and frequenting Rochester street corners and local festivals, Duell solicited contributions from local small business owners.
Duell also often sold small American flags directly to the public at these venues, claiming the proceeds would go to the "charity" Veteran Helping Veterans, whose goal, he claimed was to help improve the quality of life for veterans, provide accommodations for homeless veterans and to provide needed support such as training, job placement, education, and counseling. Duell also told potential donors that Veteran Helping Veterans was associated with the nationally-known Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), which was not true.
In fact, Duell obtained at least $4,500 in donations from at least 56 small businesses, deposited the funds in the organizations checking accounts and then used the monies for personal purposes such as rent and entertainment. The veterans publication, where he promised to list donors names, was never produced or distributed.
In addition to being banned from charitable solicitations, door-to-door sales and telemarketing, the consent order requires Duell to refund the ill-gotten donations and to provide to the Attorney Generals office a full accounting of each transaction, including names and addresses of donors. Donors who believe they are eligible for refunds pursuant to the consent order are directed to file a complaint with the Attorney Generals office..
Duell also was ordered to pay $7,000 in penalties and costs.
Individuals wishing to file complaints are directed to contact the Attorney Generals consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or visit the offices web site at www.ag.ny.gov.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Carlos Rodriguez of the Rochester Regional Office with the assistance of Senior Investigator Christopher Holland.