State Charges Mass. Veterans Charity With Fraud

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Selectman Anthony Renzoni, commander of Holden's American Legion Post (John E. Harkins Post 42), worked to bring to light the alleged deceptive fundraising practices of Bay State Vietnam Veterans. Photo Credit: Daniel Castro

HOLDEN, Mass. – State Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed suit against a Massachusetts veterans organization charging it with using deceptive fundraising practices. The suit follows an investigation prompted by from Holden Selectman Anthony Renzoni.  

Filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the lawsuit names Bay State Vietnam Veterans, Inc., of Somerset and its professional fundraisers, Dynamic Marketing Solutions of Rhode Island. 

The two organizations violated state charitable solicitation and consumer protection laws by telling donors 100 percent of their contribution would go to veterans living in their community, according to the suit. The suit says only 15 percent of the funds went to support veterans and 85 percent went back to Dynamic. 

The lawuit seeks $5,000 in civil penalties for each deceptive act found by a court.

"This is a victory for not only Holden's veterans, but for all local veterans in need," Renzoni, who is also commander of the local American Legion Post, said of the lawsuit. "Good people are willing to give their hard-earned money to help veterans out, they really need it, and you have an insincere charity come along and take upwards of 85 cents of every dollar donated and put it into their operating costs and to make a profit.

"It's bad for business and it's bad for veterans," he continued, "and makes it harder for the American Legion Post to collect money and get it to the people that need it — the veterans who are hungry or cold or in need of just a little assistance."

At least two Holden residents received calls from reps of Bay State Vietnam Veterans in August of 2011 implying they were raising money for Holden's veterans. 

Renzoni, who also received calls from the fundraisers, was suspicious that donations  were not making their way to local vets and contacted the attorney general's office. 

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders scheduled a hearing for Aug. 23 on the attorney general's motion for a preliminary injunction barring fundraisers from continuing to use deceptive tactics and ordering them to account for all money raised from the public in 2011 and 2012. 

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Pat Henry:

High praise indeed coming from you, Tim.

TimEthier:

Anthony Renzonni should be applauded for his efforts in exposing this group. Too many money-grubbing professional fundraising groups are using veterans and other sympathetic causes to squeeze people into giving money, a small fraction of which goes to the actual cause. Unfortunately legitimate fundraising is often the victim. Hopefully this group will be forced to disband and distribute the money they raised to the people who actually deserve it. Thank you Anthony.

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