Fake veterans charity scam leads to prison sentence, restitution

West Bloomfield man ordered to pay $74,400 In restitution to

paralyzed veterans of America and disabled American Veterans

A West Bloomfield man who established fake charities and impersonated legitimate veterans groups for his own gain will spend at least the next year and a half in prison and pay $74,400 in restitution.

On Nov. 7, Neil Thrasher, 37, was sentenced to 17 months to 10 years in prison, and ordered to pay restitution of $29,257 to Paralyzed Veterans of America and $45,143 to Disabled American Veterans.

Thrasher had pleaded no contest to creating two fake charities: The Paralyzed American Veterans and Disabled Veterans of America. The names used where similar to two longstanding national organizations that have assisted veterans for years: Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans.

"Creating phony charities to line your pockets violates state law and abuses the public trust," said Attorney General Bill Schuette. "Michigan citizens deserve to know that money they give to veterans organizations actually goes to help veterans."

"Paralyzed Veterans of America is proud of our service to veterans and their families for more than six decades. We have, and will continue to, enforce our legal rights to protect our reputation and maintain public confidence in our services and our mission," said Len Selfon, Acting General Counsel for Paralyzed Veterans of America. "We urge donors to be vigilant and to report suspicious charities to the proper authorities."

Thrasher collected more than $180,000 through telemarketing from unsuspecting donors and later used a substantial portion of the money as if it were his personal funds. Although Thrasher claimed to be helping disabled veterans, he used the money to make purchases at athletic clubs, liquor stores, and restaurants.

Michigan citizens are encouraged to report any future solicitations by the Paralyzed American Veterans, Disabled Veterans of America, or the Veterans of America Foundation in violation of state law to the Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section by calling (517) 373-1152 or emailing complaints to ct_email @michigan. gov <mailto:ct_email @michigan.gov>. Complaints may also be mailed to: Charitable Trust Section, P.O. Box 30214, Lansing, MI 48909.

Published: Mon, Nov 19, 2012

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