Founder of Veterans Charities Accused of Pocketing Donations

Veteran displahys his medalsThe founder of two charities that were supposed to help veterans is accused of pocketing $690,000 in donations and improperly using money given to the charities to make unreported political contributions.

The lawsuit was filed by the Oregon Attorney General's office against Gregory Warnock and groups he founded: the Oregon War Veterans Association and Military Family Support Foundation."The Department of Justice is committed to cracking down on charities that misuse donations raised to benefit veterans, law enforcement and other worthy causes," Keith Dubanevich, chief of staff for the department, said in a statement. "Oregonians deserve absolute assurances that their generous charitable contributions are spent properly."

Warnock falsely claimed that the foundation had been granted charitable status by the IRS and that donations to it were tax-deductible, according to the lawsuit. Warnock used the foundation to solicit donations that he transferred to himself or groups under his control, the department alleges.

Warnock also allegedly let the veterans association make unreported political contributions and said that donors could claim a charitable tax deduction for contributions that were to be used for political purposes, violations of Oregon's campaign finance laws, IRS regulations and the group's status as a charitable, public-benefit corporation.

The lawsuit seeks to shut down the association, prevent Warnock from operating charities in the future, and require Warnock to repay amounts he allegedly diverted so the funds can be distributed to charitable organizations that provide help to veterans.

Lisa Wrighter, a spokeswoman for the veterans association, told Consumer Ally the attorney general's allegations are false.

"Without question, the organizations officers and director have served above reproach in the handling of all donor contributions since day one," Ken Jacroux, president of the charity's board of directors, said in a statement.

When selecting a charity, consumers should check with the state agency that regulates charities and the Better Business Bureau. Find out if the charity is registered and how much of its money goes to fundraising.

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