Indiana Goes After Sham Veterans Charities

     FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CN) – Three groups that claim to be charities for veterans keep the money they raise, Indiana’s attorney general claims in court.
     Indiana sued Sandbox Veterans of America, Catholic Veterans of Indiana, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Inc., in Allen County Court.
     Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Inc. is a “sham group” that is not affiliated with the “well-known and respected” Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the attorney general says.
     The state also sued the four people who incorporated the groups: Adam Matthew Silvani (Sandbox), Olivia Jean Locke aka Olivia Jean Silvani (Catholic Veterans), Roger Anthony Locke (Catholic Veterans), and Donald Shoppe (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans), all of Fort Wayne.
     The defendants have solicited charitable contributions since June 2011, but “the contributions were not given to veterans as represented,” the state says in its Sept. 19 complaint.
     In its articles of incorporation, Sandbox Veterans of America claimed that its purpose was “to offer support sessions and provide assistive services to local veterans who have recently served in overseas campaigns … hotel vouchers for patients at there [sic] local hospitals. To also give shelter to local homeless veterans. To help local veterans in finding jobs and training them further in there [sic] career.”
     The 9-page complaint described the manner in which the defendants raised money.
     But when the attorney general’s office in February this year asked for proof of 501(c)(3) status with the IRS and bank accounts where donations were held, Olivia Locke “informed plaintiff that neither Sandbox Veterans of America nor Catholic Veterans of Indiana Limited had bank accounts where charitable donations were processed or kept,” according to the lawsuit.
     The attorney general calls defendant Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Inc. “a sham organization that is not affiliated with the IAVA. Defendants Olivia Silvani, Adam Silvani, and Donald Shoppe used IAVA’s name to gain recognition without actually donation to IAVA. To make the Indiana organization appear to be affiliated with IAVA, Olivia Locke included IAVA’s president and CEO names and New York addresses in her Indiana Secretary of State filing, misrepresenting her organization’s affiliation with IAVA,” according to the complaint.
     The state seeks an injunction, penalties for deceptive trade, and costs of investigation.

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