NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow announced on Friday that she is suing an unregistered charitable organization that allegedly solicited donations to save horses, but instead used the money for personal expenses.
NJ Horse Angels and its two trustees, Sharon Catalano-Crumb and Frank Wikoff, allegedly collected more than $145,000 in donations between September 2009 and September 2010 from Internet social networking sites.
The money would allegedly go towards keeping horses from being killed and processed into pet food, but instead, a large amount of the funds was allegedly used to pay the personal expenses of its two trustees.
The suit alleges that $61,422 in donations was misappropriated by Catalano-Crumb and used for such things as trips to Atlantic City casinos, meals, pre-paid phone cards and cash withdrawals.
She allegedly also sent cash to her son, currently serving a life sentence at Trenton State Prison, and bought jewelry for her boyfriend, a convicted felon.
"We allege that these defendants defrauded donors for their own personal enrichment," Dow said. "It's unfortunate that animal lovers and other well-meaning donors fell victim to a con woman who used horse photos and sob stories posted online to tug at their hearts and to open their wallets."
Dow seeks restitution for donors, closure of NJ Horse Angels and the barring of Catalano-Crumb and Wikoff from working for any charitable organization in the state. She is also seeking civil penalties.
The defendants allegedly violated the state's Charitable Registration and Investigation Act. NJ Horse Angels also operated under the names NJ Horse Angels Rescue, NJ Killpen Horses, Horse Angels of Facebook, Camelot Auction Horse Angels, and The Forgotten Angels.
The sites claimed that there were horses fated to be sold and sent to slaughterhouses for processing into pet food but could be saved and then cared for by NJ Horse Angels with help from donations.
While some of the donations were used to rescue, transport and care for horses, about $9,000 remains unaccounted for.