SEATTLE -- Attorney General Christine Gregoire today announced two charitable fundraisers have been ordered to pay nearly $100,000 for allegedly lying to obtain contributions for non-profit organizations. Judgments have been filed in King County Superior Court against Diamond Vision Consulting, Inc. of Seattle, and in Spokane County Superior Court against the National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP), which has offices in Washington, D.C. and Florida.
The Attorney General's Office originally filed lawsuits against the two in 1994. "Consumers and the law enforcement community both were victimized by the unscrupulous tactics of these fundraisers, " said Gregoire. "People willingly gave money believing it was being used to support legitimate causes."
Charitable fundraisers Diamond Vision Consulting, Inc., formerly doing business as Tri-Star Promotion Corporation, and its owners Joseph Michael and Colleen F. McGuinn of Bellevue, agreed to pay $75,000, including $20,000 to the White Center Boys and Girls Club in lieu of consumer restitution and $55,000 for state costs and fees.
Under the judgment, Diamond Vision, which allegedly made numerous misrepresentations including claiming promotions were authorized by the Seattle Seahawks, would be ordered out of business if further violations are committed. NACOP and its Texas fundraiser, Shamrock Publishing, Inc. agreed to pay $22,834, including $7,500 in restitution to Washington law enforcement officers injured or killed in the line of duty, or their families.
Letters mailed to Spokane residents by NACOP, which runs a police museum in Florida, stated donations would be used to "support our men and women in blue. . . for safe streets in Spokane." The Spokane Police Department had no knowledge of the fundraising effort and received no money from the fundraiser. All of the defendants were ordered to refrain from future violations or pay suspended civil penalties of $200,000 against Diamond Vision and Tri-Star, and $10,000 against NACOP and Shamrock.
Gregoire urges Washington Consumers to ask key questions before giving to a charitable fundraiser or organization, and be sure to verify the answers:
- Is the charity or fundraiser registered with the State of Washington?
- What is the name, address and telephone number of the organization asking for the donation?
- Exactly how will the donation be used?
- What percentage of the contribution will actually be spent on the charitable purpose of the organization?
Gregoire also recommends that consumers refrain from giving money to a fundraiser or charity without first receiving written materials regarding the charitable cause. In addition, she said consumers should never give their credit card number to a fundraiser or charity.
To check up on a charitable fundraiser or charitable organization, consumers should call the Secretary of State's Charities Information Hotline at 1-800-332-4483 (360-753-1485 for the hearing impaired).
Consumers with questions or complaints about charitable fundraisers or their activities should call the Attorney General's Office at 1-800-551-4636, or for the hearing impaired, contact 1-800-833-6384.