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Post date: June 17 2003

Attorney General Stops Phony Fundraising For Firefighters

State Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with an Illinois-based organization and one of its fundraisers that misled donors to believe that funds raised would benefit disabled and retired firefighters in New York State.

The settlement with Association of Retired Firefighters (ARF), of Peoria, Illinois, and S&E Marketing, Ltd. of Union, New Jersey follows an investigation into false claims in their telephone and mail solicitations. The investigation also determined that ARF illegally failed to disclose that donors' contributions were not tax deductible and led donors to believe, in promotional materials and pledge forms, that ARF was based in White Plains, when in actuality it only used the address as a mail drop.

"When charities mislead the public, they damage the efforts of the thousands of charities who obey the law and are forthright in their solicitations," Spitzer said. "My office will continue to enforce the law so that donors can make sound decisions about the charities they support with their hard earned dollars."

The Fireman's Association of the State of New York (FASNY), an organization that serves 110,000 firefighters statewide, praised Spitzer for his enforcement efforts.

FASNY President Joseph A. Finnegan said: "We applaud the efforts of Attorney General Spitzer in seeking redress against the misuse of fundraising activities on behalf of firefighters, career and volunteer. We strongly support the Attorney General's efforts in curtailing activities which diminish the importance of proper fundraising for career and volunteer firefighters alike."

Spitzer added that FASNY and other firefighting groups play a crucial role in working with his office to ensure the integrity of fundraising in New York.

The agreement with ARF and S&E Marketing, prohibits them from representing that their donations are tax deductible and from telling donors that ARF is a New York-based organization.

According to the terms of the settlement, ARF and S&E Marketing will pay a total of $26,000 to the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation ("HESC") for use in its Memorial Scholarship program. HESC administers scholarships for families of firefighters who were killed in the line of duty in service to the State.

This case continues the efforts of the Attorney General to ensure that charities - particularly those that claim to raise money for members of the uniformed services and their families - obey the law in their solicitation practices. On May 20, 2003, Spitzer announced a settlement with Estel Senn, the New York Firefighters Foundation and the New York Police Foundation, two corporations that Senn controlled. These foundations solicited donations from New Yorkers purportedly to be used for college scholarships of family members of police officers and firefighters who were killed or incapacitated in the line of duty.

The investigation found that Senn had defrauded donors by permitting scholarships to be awarded to students who were not family members of police officers and firefighters killed or incapacitated in the line of duty and had failed to award any scholarships to New York City residents, although one of the foundations' fund raisers focused its solicitation efforts in New York City.

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

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