AG Coakley's Office Obtains Judgments Against Charitable Solicitors Who Allegedly Deceived Massachusetts Donors About Massachusetts Police Solicitations
The settlements require defendant James Vincent, 32, of North Providence, Rhode Island, to pay the Commonwealth $101,725 in civil penalties; for defendant Patrick D. Kane, Jr., 21, of Rumford, Rhode Island, to pay the Commonwealth $16,000 in civil penalties; and for defendant Mark Hemphill, 26, also of Rumford, Rhode Island, to pay the Commonwealth $10,000 in civil penalties. The settlements also permanently prohibit Kane, Hemphill and Vincent from engaging in any unfair or deceptive charitable solicitation practices.
In May 2009, the Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court against the three men, who allegedly made misleading statements while raising funds on behalf of the Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center, Inc. (DPOCC), based in Niceville, Florida. Affidavits from Massachusetts citizens showed that Kane, Hemphill and Vincent misled potential donors to believe that local police in Massachusetts would benefit from a donation to DPOCC. Authorities further alleged that Kane, Hemphill and Vincent failed to disclose to potential donors that they were paid fundraisers, as required by Massachusetts law; and they failed to disclose DPOCC's Florida address and telephone number, as required by Massachusetts law.
In March 2010, the Attorney General's Office also obtained a consent judgment against DPOCC itself, for its role in contracting with these solicitors. As a result of the consent judgment, the charity agreed to pay the Commonwealth $1,000 for the costs of the investigation, and refrain from engaging in any business with Kane, Hemphill and Vincent for a period of 10 years. The DPOCC is also prohibited from fundraising in Massachusetts for a period of four years.
In July 2010, the Attorney General's Office received payments of $10,000 on the bonds that Hemphill and Vincent, respectively, posted in connection with their solicitations for DPOCC. A $10,000 payment on the bond posted by Kane is forthcoming.
The AG's Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division oversees nonprofit, charitable organizations. All professional fundraisers must be registered with the Attorney General's Office prior to engaging in business in the Commonwealth. In enforcing against unfair and/or deceptive practices, the Attorney General's Office is authorized to obtain injunctions, financial penalties, permanent bans, and, in cases of criminal law violations, imprisonment of responsible individuals.
Consumers can also review our Give, but Wisely Advisory online to obtain tips on how to give wisely this holiday season and beyond.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Green, together with the assistance of investigator Daniel Ferullo and paralegal Stephanie Emerich, all of Attorney General Coakley's Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division.