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Attorney General James delivers over $640,000 to breast cancer organizations


Wed, Feb 23rd 2022 03:55 pm

Funds derived from fraudulent charities and fundraising network shut down by AG’s office

New York Attorney General Letitia James has delivered more than $640,000 to five nonprofit organizations that are leading the fight against breast cancer. The funds were recovered by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) from organizations and individuals who defrauded New Yorkers into making donations that went into the pockets of telemarketers. The OAG’s office said the attorney general “recovered the funds from the Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation Inc. (BCSF), a sham organization; and Garrett Morgan, a telemarketer who misled donors into contributing to a sham breast cancer organization on Long Island.” The $644,054.79 in restitution was distributed to the American Cancer Society, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition, Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition, and Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer.

“It is unconscionable that organizations and telemarketers preyed on the public’s generosity and deprived breast cancer patients of vital support during a time of tremendous physical, mental, and emotional distress,” James said. “Today, I am honored to return these funds to the people and organizations that need them most. My office is proud to be a partner to these five incredible organizations and help them in supporting breast cancer patients and survivors throughout their journey.”

A press release from the OAG stated, “In 2017, OAG announced an agreement with BCSF and its president and founder. The BCSF posed in phone and mail solicitations as a medical center for breast cancer patients, when in reality it was a shell organization funneling donations to an outside fundraiser, which pocketed 92 cents of every dollar donated to BCSF. The OAG’s agreement required BCSF to shut down immediately and pay more than $300,000 in restitution, the last of which was received by OAG in 2021. The OAG also obtained $40,000 from BCSF’s auditors, McEnerney, Brady & Company LLC and Edmund Brady.

“In 2013, OAG won a judgment against Garrett Morgan for fraud in raising funds for the Coalition Against Breast Cancer, a sham Long Island organization. The organization raised millions of dollars with solicitations that claimed there was a ‘mammography fund,’ when there was none, and that donations would provide free mammograms to uninsured women. Morgan did not pay the judgment and, acting on a motion by OAG, the court appointed a receiver to collect or sell Morgan’s property to satisfy the judgment. In 2021, the receiver delivered $303,747.86 to OAG.”

The OAG's Charities Bureau selected five nonprofit organizations to receive the restitution funds, including:

•The American Cancer Society ($314,054.79): The ACS will use the award to support an initiative that increases breast cancer screening in high poverty areas, including screening among women who have never been screened before or who are not up to date with screening. The initiative focuses on uninsured and underinsured women by partnering with community health centers. With funds from OAG, the ACS will launch a new cohort of community health centers to participate in the mammogram initiative.

“The American Cancer Society is committed to expanding access to care for all and removing barriers that prevent cancer patients from getting the care and treatment they need,” CEO Dr. Karen Knudsen said. “The pandemic brought about dramatic declines in breast cancer screenings. We are grateful that funds from the New York Attorney General’s Office will expand our lifesaving initiative to increase cancer screening rates and ultimately save lives.”

•Living Beyond Breast Cancer ($225,000): Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a national nonprofit organization, will use the award to support its Living Beyond Breast Cancer Fund, which provides one-time grants to help those on limited incomes manage the financial burden of breast cancer. Grants range from $500 to $1,000 and are for living expenses. Grants are paid directly to vendors or billers. Recipients of the one-time grants must be in active treatment for breast cancer or living with metastatic breast cancer, and have a household income under 400% of the U.S. federal poverty line.

“We are honored to have been selected by the New York Attorney General’s Office,” said Jean Sachs, CEO, Living Beyond Breast Cancer. “Living Beyond Breast Cancer was founded over 30 years ago to offer trusted information and a community of support for all people directly impacted by breast cancer. We annually serve over 600,000 people across the country. A critical program of ours is the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Fund, a financial assistance program that pays the bills for women in treatment for basic needs such as rent, utilities and transportation. Since 2006, we have been able to disburse over 3,150 grants for an approximate total of $2,530,000 to women and their families. Since the pandemic began, we have doubled the number of grants available to give to recipients as a way to alleviate financial hardship faced by so many across the country. The funds provided by the New York Attorney General’s Office will allow us to continue this intensive support, and help women in treatment focus on their health and not on their bills.”

•West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition on Long Island ($30,000): West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition of Long Island Inc. will use the award to provide patients undergoing breast cancer treatment with services such as transportation, meals, child care, house cleaning, wigs, advice and support from former cancer patients.

•Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition ($35,000): Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition Inc. will use the award to provide an array of services to patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer and gynecological cancers, including transportation to medical appointments, housekeeping, meals, and childcare as needed during treatment.

•Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer ($40,000): Manhasset Women’s Coalition Against Breast Cancer Inc., will use the award to support its outreach program, which provides services to patients in the form of transportation, child care, house cleaning, wigs and non-financial support including advice and general emotional support of other former patients.

The recovered funds distributed Wednesday are part of OAG’s “Operation Bottomfeeder,” which is “an initiative of the charities bureau to identify fraudulent charities and their fundraisers.” This is done through an analysis of annual financial reports, fundraising contracts, and other documents that nonprofit corporations file with the charities bureau, and has allowed OAG “to take appropriate enforcement action against those engaging in fraud.”

In 2020, as a part of “Operation Bottomfeeder,” James announced a multiagency agreement imposing a nationwide, permanent ban on Outreach Calling, a for-profit fundraiser, from charitable fundraising. To date, “Operation Bottomfeeder” has recovered approximately $1.7 million from sham charities and their fundraisers and has redistributed that money to legitimate charities.

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