Millions of dollars meant for veterans has been stolen by con men or misspent by charities in recent years, according to Ohio officials who tell the Dayton Daily News they are stepping up enforcement.
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Recent veteran-related allegations:
A Dollar to Care
A Riverside woman was forced to shut down her charity after an attorney general’s investigation found the money wasn’t helping with the monthly bills of soldiers incarcerated for crimes allegedly committed during combat, but instead was going for her personal uses. The charity also wasn’t registered with the state. Cari Johnson agreed to pay a $20,000 fine, half of which will go to a charity of the state’s choosing.
American Heroes Alliance
The Ohio Attorney General in April filed suit against a Columbus woman and her two children alleging they misappropriated more than $150,000 in charitable assets, didn’t register as a charity and misled people into thinking donations would go to veterans and their families. Instead, state officials said she used charity funds “as an extension of her own bank account” to pay for meals, hair salon services, car repairs and other personal expenses.
Just 4 Vets
While Just 4 Vets is a legitimate non-profit created to help veterans and their families, they had no idea two men had started soliciting for donations in their name in front of Kroger and Walmart in the Columbus area, nor did they get any of the money. The two men signed an agreement in April with the attorney general’s office to stop illegal solicitations on the charity’s behalf.
The Ohio Attorney General in March ended an investigation into AMVETS career centers across Ohio that uncovered the misappropriation of millions in charitable funds. The state found 59 posts across the state received more than $10 million since 2006 — money raised at local bingo games — to provide career centers for veterans, but was using the money for non-charitable purposes.
U.S. Navy Veterans Association
A Florida man is facing fraud charges in Cuyahoga County for allegedly bilking donors out of more than $100 million meant for Navy veterans, including nearly $2 million in Ohio. The charity was based in Florida and had offices in Cincinnati and raised donations from 41 states until newspaper investigations found the charity was allegedly a farce. The trial for John Donald Cody — who goes by the alias Bobby Thompson — is scheduled for September.