Long Island charities, accounting firm to pay $500K in settlement

By Bryan Cohen | Feb 6, 2014

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a $500,000 settlement on Tuesday with the owners of three Long Island charities, a professional fundraiser and an accounting firm to resolve allegations of charity fraud.

Lynne Speciale, Yvonne Caraftis and Maryann Hanovic, the heads of three Long Island charities, Harriet Waldbaum, the owner of professional fundraiser Mure Associates, and Portfolio Planners will pay $500,000 to resolve allegations of fraudulently soliciting funds for victims of domestic violence, the hungry and breast cancer research, if the settlement is approved.

Schneiderman's Charities Bureau alleged that the Bi-County Helpline for Abuse Against Women and Children, Long Island Responds and Breast Cancer Funds for Research were shell organizations run primarily to benefit Mure Associates and the officers of the charities. The organizations raised approximately $2.2 million since 2006, but they allegedly gave less than four percent of the money to any charitable purpose.

"Operators of sham charities like these prey on the generosity of New Yorkers and must be held accountable," Schneiderman said. "Our Charities Bureau will continue to pursue organizations that violate New York's not-for-profit laws and the fundraisers and advisors who assist them. This protects donors as well as the good name and reputation of the legitimate organizations in this vitally important sector."

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the three charities would be permanently shuttered and Mure Associates would be forced to close. The settlement would also bar Portfolio Planners from providing services to nonprofits registered in New York and require the accounting firm to pay $10,000 to the state.

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