Veterans Charity Accused of Squandering Millions
Aug 10, 2012
Associated Press| by Julie Watson
SAN DIEGO -- Help Hospitalized Veterans is no stranger to controversy.
The California-based charity came under scrutiny four years ago, when its founder and then-president was hauled before
Congress to answer tough questions about his management of millions of dollars in private donations. Roger Chapin vehemently
defended his actions, and his group went on to raise millions more to support its mission of providing arts and craft kits
to homebound and hospitalized veterans.
Now the organization is in trouble again in a case that watchdog groups say highlights the lack of oversight for the growing
number of charities that have cropped up in recent years to help troops returning from war.
California's Attorney General Kamala Harris told The Associated Press on Thursday that her office is suing the charity
based in Winchester, over alleged violations of state codes.
Chapin and his successor, Michael Lynch, grossly overpaid themselves with the consent of several board members, prosecutors
say. The organization's directors spent lavishly on perks, such as $80,000 in golf memberships for board members, according
to the complaint filed in Riverside County Superior Court.
Help Hospitalized Veterans reported annual revenue in 2011 was $41 million, including $30 million in cash donations.
"What makes this case so egregious is our military servicemen and women are willing to sacrifice their lives
for our country and for us as Americans, and when they are in need of help and support we should give it to them and not manipulate
charitable people and then personally profit from them," Harris said.
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