MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced $40,000 in consent judgments on Wednesday against two alleged perpetrators of a deceptive charitable solicitation campaign.
Todd Messmer of Oak Creek and Marilyn L. Broerman of Charlotte, N.C., allegedly placed hundreds of candy donation canisters featuring posters of missing children in southeast Wisconsin businesses. The defendants allegedly told consumers that the money raised would aid in the search for missing children, when none of the proceeds actually went to charities connected to assisting or locating missing children.
Broerman allegedly developed the scheme under the business names The Beacon Project and Creative Marketing Solutions. Messmer purchased more than 700 donation canisters, including more than 400 from Broerman. The two allegedly placed the canisters in small businesses throughout southeast Wisconsin.
Under the terms of the consent judgment, approved in Waukesha County, Messmer must pay the state $20,000 in reimbursement and forfeitures for the state's costs in bringing the action and is barred from future violations of the charitable solicitation law in Wisconsin. A similar $20,000 judgment was entered in December against Broerman.
"Any type of deceptive charitable fundraising is unacceptable, but exploiting missing children to mislead the public and take advantage of generous citizens and business owners is truly reprehensible," Van Hollen said. "As this case demonstrates, we will not tolerate fraudulent charitable solicitations in Wisconsin, and will continue to go after those who seek donations under false pretenses."