Syracuse-area Fundraiser Charged For Failing To Comply With State Charities Law

Attorney General Spitzer today announced the arraignment of the owner of a Central New York telemarketing company for failing to comply with state charities registration requirements.

The defendant, Upstate Telemarketing, Inc., of Liverpool, and its sole owner Dominic J. D'Alfonso, 59, of North Syracuse are charged with acting as an unregistered professional fund raiser, a class A misdemeanor, stemming from his operation of Upstate as a charity fund raising business while willfully failing to register it with the Attorney General's Office.

"The requirement that professional fund raisers register with my office helps maintain public confidence in charitable solicitations. This prosecutions sends the message to the fundraising industry that willful and flagrant disregard of the registration requirement will not be tolerated," said Spitzer.

The misdemeanor information alleges that D'Alfonso's conduct was willful because he disregarded the requirement that the company register as a professional fund raiser despite repeated notices from the Attorney General and his independent knowledge of the law. D'Alfonso appeared on October 1, 2003 in Salina Town Court before Justice Andrew Piraino. Justice Piraino entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of D'Alfonso and scheduled the next court appearance for October 29.

The information alleges that D'Alfonso had actual knowledge of the law from his long history in the fund raising business, which included serving as president of four registered professional fund raisers during successive periods starting in 1988. In many instances, D'Alfonso participated personally in registering these professional fund raisers. D'Alfonso was also made aware of the registration requirement through a prior civil suit filed by the Attorney General.

In 1997, the Attorney General sued Deborah A. Daley & Associates, Inc., one of the fund raisers for which D'Alfonso served as president. The suit was settled in 1997 when D'Alfonso signed an agreement consenting to the entry of a court order that prohibited any corporation he would ever own or operate from soliciting funds without being registered as a professional fund raiser.

D'Alfonso faces imprisonment of up to one year, a $1,000 fine, and restitution of all the fees earned as a fund raiser. Upstate faces a fine of up to $5,000, plus similar restitution.

The charge in this case is a mere accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Maria Moran of the Syracuse Regional Office and Timothy B. Lennon of the Charities Bureau.