Company accused of duping Jaycees chapters and donors
SEATTLE – A for-profit fundraiser that solicited donations for Jaycees chapters and other charities throughout Western Washington, as well as fake charities, will no longer solicit donations under a settlement with the Washington Attorney General’s Office.
In its lawsuit, the Attorney General’s Office accused Charitable Assistance Group, Inc., of Seattle, and its predecessor, Direct Funding, Inc., of violating state consumer protection and charitable solicitations laws. Also named as defendants were three company officials and solicitors: Justin McGuinn and his father, Joseph Michael McGuinn, both of Seattle, and Jennifer Bartlett aka Virginia Bartlett, of Vancouver.
The defendants had contracts to solicit donations for the Washington Junior Chamber (Jaycees) and Jaycees chapters in Renton, Kirkland and Vancouver; as well as the Firefighters Assistance Fund, Vietnow National Headquarters dba Veterans Now, Veterans Charitable Foundation and the Disabled Police Officers Guild of America.
“We believe the defendants duped the Jaycees and individual donors by misrepresenting how contributions would be spent,” said Assistant Attorney General Shannon Smith. “The defendants were stingy and kept most of the money for themselves. Under this settlement, they agree to no longer solicit for any charity in Washington.”
The state’s complaint accused the defendants of misrepresenting how donations were spent, creating an impression that paid solicitors were volunteers for the charities, soliciting for organizations that weren’t registered as charities with the Secretary of State’s Office and failing to submit required reports to the Secretary of State’s Office.
The defendants also were accused of soliciting donations to purchase Spinoza Buddy Bears to distribute to hospitalized children in the Puget Sound, despite lacking authorization from the toy’s manufacturer. And they were accused of soliciting for a number of fake charities such as the “Northwest Firefighters.”
According to records filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, only 9 percent of the $183,814 in charitable donations raised by the defendants went to their clients. In 2007, the defendants returned only 5 percent of the $319,723 they raised.
As a condition of the settlement, all of the defendants have agreed not to solicit charitable contributions in the state of Washington.
Defendant Joseph McGuinn violated a 1996 settlement that restricts his ability to solicit donations. In that case, McGuinn and his wife, while operating a fundraising company known as Diamond Vision Consulting and Tri-Star Promotion Corporation, were accused of falsely claiming promotions were authorized by the Seattle Seahawks and local police and firefighter organizations.
The complaint and settlement documents were submitted this week to King County Superior Court.
Charitable Assistance Group et al Complaint
Charitable Assistance Group and Justin McGuinn Stipulated Judgment
Joseph McGuinn Stipulated Judgment
Virginia Bartlett Stipulated Judgment
Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager - Seattle, (206) 464-6432