State Blows Whistle on Police ‘Charities’

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – State prosecutors say four men and the three supposed charities they run – the American Association of Police Officers, the Junior Police Academy and the Police Protective Fund – are defrauding the public – and that five other states have accused them of the same thing.
      California claims the groups falsely claimed to be run by police officers, are run to benefit their directors rather than police, and use manipulative tactics to get donations.
     California sued David Dierks and Philip LeConte, who ran the three charities; Mark Christiansen and his company, Charitable Fundraising Services, who ran fundraising events for the three organizations; and Mike Thomas, owner of Professional Communications, which did advertising for them.
     The defendants claimed that the charities were run by “distinguished citizens and members of the law enforcement community,” prosecutors said. But the American Association of Police Officers is not run by police officers and has been sued by Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio and Illinois, according to the complaint.
     Dierks and LeConte are accused of rolling their fund raising and employment expenses into what they claimed to have spent on programs. American raised $1.3 million in 2006, but spent only $104,000 on law enforcement programs, the state says. That year the Police Protective Fund reported spending $1.5 million on program services, but used $225,000 of it to pay professional fund raisers, the state claims. In 2007, the Fund reported spending $1.7 million on programming, but used $350,000 of it to pay a judgment to the state of Missouri, according to the complaint.
     The Junior Police Academy reported spending $425,000 on programming in 2005, but actually spent $305,000 of that amount on fund raising and used another $58,000 of its “programming” funds to pay employees, California claims.
     During Junior Police Academy telemarketing campaigns, representatives claimed that the organization offered its programs to schools for free, though the defendants actually charged schools for the programs, the state says.
     Dierks and LeConte allegedly paid themselves from $156,000 to $172,000 in annual salaries, and used company money to buy cars. The two company directors also filed false forms with the state, claiming that the supposed nonprofits spent more than half of their revenue on programs, according to the complaint.
     Dierks and LeConte also are accused of listing phantom people on their board of directors. Several of the supposed board members had never attended meetings for any of the three charities, the lawsuit states.
     Attorney General Jerry Brown filed the lawsuit in Superior Court.

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