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Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Back issues
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Charity Says Christian Marketer Rolled It

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (CN) - A children's charity claims a Christian marketing company promised to deliver George W. Bush as keynote speaker at a fund raiser but substituted Glenn Beck, then made off with more than $215,000 by faking invoices and keeping money from tickets and sponsorships.

Cherish the Child, a nonprofit whose "sole mission is to provide financial assistance and public awareness to the Smoky Mountain Children's Home in Sevierville, Tennessee," claims that Palm Christian Marketing and its president Jeffrey Townsend agreed to "provide 'marketing, web design, graphic design, print, ticket sales, sponsorship sales, fundraising, event planning services, security, and event staffing for a first class fundraising event featuring George Walker Bush to be held at Thompson Boling Arena.'"

The contract was made on or about April 1 this year, and the event was to take place on or before Sept. 30, according to the complaint in Sevier County Court.

The contract called for the charity to pay the defendant $105,000 over 6 months, in monthly installment of $17,500, according to the complaint.

The contract stated that Cherish the Child "would 'make checks payable to those agencies with whom the contract is being entered into but will provide said checks to [defendant Palm Christian Marketing] for delivery.' Further, the addendum provided that defendant Palm Christian Marketing would provide plaintiff with a receipt for all payments made to third parties through Palm Christian Marketing." (Brackets in complaint.)

A few weeks after the contract was signed, "the plaintiff authorized the defendants to contract with Glenn Beck in lieu of President George W. Bush as the keynote speaker," the complaint states.

After the event, which took place on October 28, the "defendants agreed that it [sic] owed $82,750 to plaintiff ... [and] sent an email stating that monies would be wired to plaintiff; however, no monies were ever sent to plaintiff for reimbursement," the complaint states.

It continues: "The plaintiff received requests from vendors that defendants represented had been paid and reimbursed by plaintiff. Plaintiff learned that although plaintiff had provided money to the defendant for said vendors' expenses, defendant had never provided payment to vendor. Upon information and belief the defendants committed the following acts:

"a. Defendants received payments from plaintiff of approximately $10,166.00 for printing and mailing from Sharper Images, Inc.; however defendant only incurred $4,183.65 in invoices from Sharper Images, Inc. and never paid said invoices.

"b. Defendants received payments from plaintiff of approximately $3,180.00 for event cancellation insurance from Petersen International Underwriters; however, defendants never paid Petersen International Underwriters for any insurance policy.

"c. Defendants received payments of approximately $22,500.00 for assorted radio/television advertising; however, defendant only forwarded approximately $14,000 for such advertising and never paid several invoices to vendors including Cumulus Broadcasting (formerly Citadel Broadcasting), Comcast Spotlight, East Tennessee Radio Group, and Brewer Media."

The charity claims that Townsend and Palm Christian Marketing also "collected approximately $110,000 on behalf of the plaintiff in ticket sales and/or individual sponsorships ... [and] then appropriated said monies for their own use by intentionally maintaining domain over said monies in controversion of the plaintiff's ownership rights."

Cherish the Child seeks $215,000 in compensatory damages and $600,000 in punitive damages for fraudulent misrepresentation and conversion.

It is represented by Bryan Delius of Sevierville.

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