SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline) - Oregon Attorney General John Kroger has announced the dissolving of a charity that claimed to aid U.S. veterans but instead allegedly kept most of the money it raised.
No Veterans Left Behind Association, under the lawsuit settlement, will be dissolved and the non-profit's remaining assets, which include only some T-shirts, banners and a weed wacker, will be turned over to the state of Oregon.
The four defendants who ran the Oregon-based charity are required by terms of the settlement to pay a total of $4,800 over the next two years to the Oregon Veterans' Home and are barred from engaging in charitable activities again. The defendants must pay the state $75,000 if they violate the terms of the settlement.
"Veterans deserve our respect and gratitude," General Kroger said. "The families of fallen soldiers deserve to honor their children in peace."
The Oregon Department of Justice alleged in a lawsuit filed last week that the defendants and their paid solicitors had set up booths in front of major retail stores in several Oregon counties. The booths sold veterans-related gear and solicited cash donations.
Store owners and shoppers were led to believe that No Veterans Left Behind was an all-volunteer group that would give between 75 percent-80 percent of donated proceeds directly to needy veterans.
The defendants, however, kept at least 80 percent of all donations for their own use, with at least $17,000 that was donated used improperly, Kroger says.
Two additional lawsuit against other veterans' charities and their fundraisers were filed by the Department of Justice Last week and settlements totaling $180,000 were secured with a professional fundraising firm based in Florida and its client charity.
Oregon has joined with other states in an amicus brief to support a Maryland man suing a church that engaged in an offensive protest outside the funeral of his son, a soldier killed in Iraq.
The case, currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, will determine if the lawsuit violated the First Amendment rights of the Westboro Baptist Church. That church's members have conducted pickets nationwide, including in Oregon.