February 18, 2005
Jefferson City, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon filed suit today in Cole County Circuit Court against two Jefferson City residents who formed a phony Lincoln University "booster club" and solicited donations from 15 area businesses, funds which they then used for personal purposes.
The lawsuit alleges that Richard Allen Norris, 63, and Alexandra Sandra Stephens, 60, registered the name Tiger Paws Booster Club with the Missouri Secretary of State's Office in November 2003. Since that time, Norris and Stephens are alleged to have solicited approximately $5,000 from Jefferson City-area businesses and individuals.
Donors were told that their donations would be used to support the Lincoln University football team and other athletic programs. At no time has the Tiger Paws Booster Club been affiliated, recognized or endorsed by Lincoln University, nor has LU ever received any funds from the club. The suit states that the donations were used for personal debts and purchases by Norris and Stephens.
"This is a clear case of two individuals taking advantage of Jefferson City's generosity and support toward Lincoln University, and deceiving the business community for personal gain," Nixon said during a Jefferson City press conference. "These individuals did much more than take money under false pretenses — they threatened to undermine the goodwill and support Lincoln University has been building for more than a century."
Nixon is asking the court to order Norris and Stephens to provide full restitution to everyone that submitted donations to the bogus booster club, pay a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation, and pay an amount equal to 10 percent of total restitution. Nixon also is requesting payment for all court, investigative, and prosecution costs.
Dr. Carolyn Mahoney, the new president of Lincoln University, joined Nixon in a press conference and applauded the effort to safeguard LU's name and reputation. She said there are many hard-working volunteers and worthwhile organizations supporting Lincoln, and she wants supporters to feel confident that their donations are going toward their intended purpose.
Nixon's office first became aware of the scam after being notified by a Lincoln University official.
"Lincoln University is fortunate in the sense of community it shares with all of Jefferson City," Mahoney said. "As president, it is my goal to build on that relationship to create a positive learning experience for our students and a source of pride for the community. I will not tolerate any individual or organization that threatens to undermine those efforts."
Editors: Three photographs are available from the news conference.