Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the settlement of a lawsuit against Fundraisers, Inc., a Florida-based telemarketer and its president, Steven Chanzes. The suit claimed that neither Fundraisers, Inc., nor ADSA, the Louisiana charity it represented, was registered to solicit contributions in Oregon. Additionally, the State charged that callers misrepresented that contributions would support the Marion County Sheriff's Office.
"Unscrupulous charities and their mercenary fundraisers should be advised that Oregon will not tolerate these tactics," Myers said. "Using the names of legitimate law enforcement agencies to line the pockets of for-profit fundraisers is reprehensible."
The case came to light in January when a Marion County resident was solicited by Fundraisers, Inc. on behalf of ADSA, a successor to the American Deputy Sheriff's Association. While he agreed to contribute, based on representations that his donation would be used to provide body armor for Marion County Sheriff's Deputies, he later called the Sheriff's Office to confirm the legitimacy of the claim. Sheriff Raul Ramirez asked the Charitable Activities Section to investigate and warned Marion County residents that his office had no connection to this fundraising campaign.
Upon execution of the settlement, Fundraisers, Inc. will pay restitution to the Marion County Sheriff's Office in the amount of $5,000, to be applied to the Department's Crime Prevention Program. An additional $5,000 in civil penalties will be paid to the Department of Justice in 60 days and $5,000 in investigative costs and attorney fees in 120 days. Civil penalties in the amount of $25,000 will become due and payable if the defendants fail to comply with the payment schedule. Fundraisers, Inc. and Steven Chanzes also agree to refrain from soliciting in Oregon for a period of five years.
"It is unfortunate that there are individuals and organizations that prey through deception on the goodwill of Oregonians who support law enforcement," Sheriff Ramirez said. "This case is indicative of the aggressive pursuit of fraud in Oregon by our Attorney General Hardy Myers."
The Department of Justice reminds Oregonians that many for-profit solicitors retain at least 70 percent of the donations they collect. Independent information regarding charitable solicitations is available on-line at www.guidestar.org, www.bbb.org, and www.doj.state.or.us. Information also may be obtained by calling the Department's Charitable Activities office in Portland at (503) 229-5725.
Victoria Cox, (971) 673-1880