California's Attorney General has filed a fraud lawsuit this past week in Riverside County Superior Court against Help Hospitalized Veterans, a Winchester, California based veterans charity, alleging that the organization's officers and directors engaged in self-dealing and fraudulent fundraising, and paid themselves excessive compensation. The attorney general seeks to recover $4.3 million that was allegedly improperly diverted from Help Hospitalized Veterans. How pathetic, if the allegations are true. The charity was founded in 1971 to provide therapeutic arts and craft activities for patients receiving care in Veterans Affairs hospitals, military hospitals and state veterans homes.
Good for the Attorney General in filing this lawsuit. There are two victims here, if the allegations are true – the servicemembers who are denied benefits and services because these monies are diverted by selfish morally depraved individuals, and those good Samaritans who made donations to this charity, believing that the monies would be used to help veterans in need. Just over the last 3 years the charity raised $108 million in contributions according to its website. Its president, Michael Lynch, had compensation in excess of $900,000 according to the Attorney General. Help Hospitalized Veterans has used much of its donations for lavish salaries and pensions, self-dealing business relationships and loans, and perks such as $80,000 in golf memberships and use of a condominium, Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said in the lawsuit.
To our veterans out there, and those who are generous and kind enough to make donations to veterans charities, this lawsuit is another reminder to watch your back, particularly in California.