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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Washington A.G. Busts Bogus Charities

SEATTLE (CN) - Two fund-raising companies solicited contributions for charities that don't exist, lied about representing real charities, and sold tickets to events that never happened -- and the operator violated a court order to do it, the Washington attorney general says. The companies and their officials agreed not to solicit charitable contributions in Washington state. "The defendants were stingy and kept most of the money for themselves. Under this settlement, they agree to no longer solicit for any charity in Washington," Assistant Attorney General Shannon Smith said in a statement.

The Charitable Assistance Group and Direct Funding Services falsely claimed to represent organizations including the Spinoza Bear Co., Northwest Firefighters, Puget Sound Police All-Stars, Puget Sound Firefighters All-Stars and NFL Veteran All-Stars, according to the complaint in King County Court.

Joseph Michael McGuinn, who helped operate both companies, owes the state $326,000 in previous fines for operating bogus charities and violated a 1996 stipulated judgment by soliciting donations, according to the complaint.

The companies solicited donations to buy Spinoza Buddy Bears for area children despite being told by Spinoza to stop using its name, and they used the word "firefighter" and "Police" without permission, the attorney general says.

They also lied about being volunteers or members of local Jaycees groups and misrepresented the tax-exempt status of the Jaycees, according to the complaint.

The state suspended payment of $100,000 in civil penalties and $47,000 in costs and attorneys' fees as long as the defendants comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.

Also named as defendants are Justin McGuinn, Jennifer Mae Bartlett and these charities or supposed charities: the Charitable Assistance Fund; Celebrity Sports Challenge; CSC; Donkey Softball Challenge; DSC; Fireball Classic; FBC; Joc'n Cop B-Ball Jam; JNC; Spinoza Buddy Bear Program; Magic of Christmas; Tickle Toon Typhoon and The Toy Chest.

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