Monday, December 19, 2011

Texas AG sues highway patrol charity scam

The Texas Attorney General has (finally) filed suit against the Texas Highway Patrol Museum and its related entities, which Grits readers will recall operate a telemarketing scheme picking the bones of dead state troopers by raising millions via telemarketing while giving less than a penny on the dollar to the supposed beneficiaries. Reports the SA Express-News ("State sues Texas Highway Patrol Museum in SA," Dec. 20):
Attorney General Greg Abbott has sued organizations tied to the Texas Highway Patrol Museum in San Antonio and accused them of illegally soliciting donations from the public and wasting money on trips, liquor and “exorbitant” pet care for a cat.

Contrary to its official-sounding name, the highway patrol museum at South Alamo and St. Mary's streets is not affiliated with the Texas Department of Public Safety. It is actually a telemarketing organization that raises millions of dollars in the name of helping DPS troopers.

But Abbott's lawsuit, filed in Travis County last week, alleged that few benefits were actually paid to troopers. Instead, funds were spent for personal use. One corporate credit card was used to buy cigars, liquor, and meals, the lawsuit alleges. The expenses were not reimbursed.

The lawsuit says museum funds were spent on “exorbitant vet bills” for an “office cat” that was kept at an Austin office. Tim Tierney, executive vice president of the organizations tied to the museum, said the expenses were justified because the cat kept employees happy, according to the lawsuit.

The museum's assets have been frozen and a temporary receiver has been appointed to oversee it.
Good! It's way past time. They should take a similarly close look at the two dozen or so other entities in Texas doing the same thing - most of them are scams, too.

MORE: From the Austin Statesman. See the AG's lawsuit (pdf) and past Grits coverage:


Bay Area Houston said...

It only took Abbott 10 years to get off his ass and do something.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

And these aren't the only ones, either. Still, better late to the party than to stand us up entirely. It's not like anybody else in officialdom is doing anything.

Anonymous said...

Tim should answer a lot of other questions, of which I think the kitty is just a distraction.

There is such a thing as progress. And Grits is part of that. Kudos.

Anonymous said...

I am to the point that I take a good hard look at any non-profit, where the money goes, who is on the board, what percentage is actually spent on their "mission," etc. The latest hustle seems to be running an "affordable housing" non-profit so you can get your hands on state backed tax increment bond money. These things are popping up like mushrooms in a field of cow slop. Some are legit, most are not. Hard to believe a guy wants to help the disadvantaged when he and his wife are both driving brand new Navigators and living in the pricey area just east of SoCo or in a Hill Country mansion. Not exactly the reincarnation of the Peace Corp.........another long running hustle that deserves legal attention is the endless aggressive solicitation at stop lights of money to help "drug addicts" by some three letter group. They've been working the 183/Cameron area for more than a decade. I just came back from Ft. Worth and it was really refreshing not to be besieged by beggars at every intersection and every stop light. Didn't see a single one in fact.

RSO wife said...

It's about time!

These kinds of organizations only stay in business because the public doesn't check them out before they give them money. These people play on two things, your generosity and/or your greed.

Legitimate charities DO NOT make phone solicitations. They will bombard you with paper but they DON'T call you.

If you make a point to NEVER do business with anyone who randomly calls you, not only will you not lose your money to unscrupulous people, you won't let them feed the office cat on your dime.

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Joan said...

I hear this Tim character is a PTA president as well. They should watch their money too with him.

Margarita Espinoza said...

How can this just be civil and not criminal? Sounds criminal to me. Hopefully Abbot won't let there bastards off with a slap on the rist. This Denton character will probably just find another scam. Shame on Abbot if he lets him get away with this.

Denise said...

The million $ question is how can this not be criminal???? What is to stop them from starting a new scam like what happened before? Does the A.G. think that civil penalties are going to stop them for good. If they get off with a slap on thd hand, it will be a disgrace and injustice. If an IRS issue too, why aren't the feds involved?

Richard D. said...

Yes, the A.G. needs to do more than just shut these losers down. They need jail time for a very long time... then hell time after that in my opinion. It is about time Abbott got off his butt and did something about this. The families of the fallen officers should also do a class action lawsuit to get all those millions for which they said it was going to.