OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Washington state children's charity founder faces a lawsuit by the state, alleging he used the charity's funds for personal expenses.
The Washington State Attorney General's Office alleges Mark Bergeson, also known as Mark Jensen, founder of the Holiday Treasure Chest Charity Foundation, used more than $280,000 from the charity for personal use. Bergeson allegedly withdrew the money from the charity's checking account and used it for gas, grocery, cell phone, cable and Internet expenses as well as for an ocean resort stay, the Attorney General's Office said.
“Charities exist to help those in need, not to enrich the people running them,” Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement. “Washingtonians thought their donations were helping kids during the holidays, not lining the pockets of those who run this so-called charity.”
Feguson's office says Bergeson violated the Charitable Solicitations Act, Charitable Trust Act and the Consumer Protection Act. The Attorney General's Office seeks dissolution of the charity, civil penalties and banning Bergeson from any future "registering or operating a non-profit or charity or soliciting charitable donations of any kind." .