LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) -- Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed a lawsuit Thursday against a New Jersey not-for-profit organization and its Conway-based fundraising partner for allegedly employing deceptive fundraising practices.
The National Police Defense Foundation allegedly contributed only $500 of the $231,004 it raised in the state to charitable purposes, while paying most of the money to the Conway-based USA Publishing Group Inc.
The lawsuit named the National Police Defense Foundation, USA Publishing, and William Parker and Kathleen Parker, USA Publishing's owners, as defendants.
"Arkansas consumers who believed they were donating their hard-earned dollars to help police, firefighters and emergency responders were instead duped into filling the coffers of a telemarketing company," McDaniel said in a statement. "Consumers deserve to get that money back. Schemes like this have no place in Arkansas."
McDaniel alleges the defendants violated the state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act by intentionally making misleading, untrue or false statements to potential donors.
Telemarketers allegedly misrepresented themselves as first responders, firefighters or police officers. The NPDF allegedly operated in Arkansas under assumed names like Firefighters and EMS Foundation, Deputy Sheriffs and Peace Officers Foundation and Arkansas Police Defense Foundation.
The defendants allegedly intentionally gave consumers the false impression the charity was based in Arkansas, asking that money be sent to an in-state office for the Arkansas Police Defense Foundation that was the address of USA Publishing, the paid solicitor.
McDaniel alleged that $231,004 of the funds collected in Arkansas, $171,193 was paid to the professional fundraisers and that 75.9 percent of all donations the organization raised in the 2012 fiscal year went toward professional fundraising fees.
The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Tampa Bay Times recently identified the NPDF as one of the 50 worst charities in the U.S.
McDaniel's lawsuit requests that the court order the defendants to provide restitution to Arkansans, pay civil penalties, pay attorney fees and costs, and stop making misleading claims.