February 23, 2006
Springfield, Mo. — The promoters of a high-profile Kansas City raffle that was cancelled after tickets sales of several thousand dollars must provide refunds to ticket holders, Attorney General Jay Nixon says. Nixon filed a lawsuit today in Jackson County Circuit Court in connection with the "Nest Egg Giveaway," which sold thousands of $25 tickets to people who hoped to win big prizes, including complete ownership of a loft with each room decorated by a different Kansas City Chiefs player.
"When people buy raffle tickets thinking it will benefit a good cause, they should have confidence that the money is going to its intended purpose," Nixon said. "With this contest, there were no prizes awarded, no refunds given, and no money that went to the charitable causes. We're going to court to make sure the entrants' money is returned to them."
The defendants promoted the raffle as a way to help revitalize the near downtown area of Kansas City and provide monetary donations to local charitable organizations. First prize in the raffle, which was slated to be held on Dec. 16, 2004, was complete ownership of a loft in the Western Auto building, with each room decorated by a different Kansas City Chiefs football player. Other advertised prizes included a Hummer H2 and $25,000 worth of home decorating.
The lawsuit charges The Endowment For The Growth Of Giving and directors Karen Green, Shavaugh Jackson, Louise Green, Paul Bloom and James Johnson with violating Missouri's Merchandising Practices Act. The defendants have addresses in the Washington, D.C. and the Kansas City areas.
The Endowment sold the raffle tickets for $25 each with the understanding that the prizes would be given away to the winners and that the proceeds would benefit the stated charitable purposes. After the scheduled raffle was cancelled, the defendants failed to refund the cost of the raffle tickets to the purchasers, in spite of language on the ticket indicating that refunds would be provided.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants instead used at least a portion of the money for personal purposes. Nixon said The Endowment For The Growth Of Giving also is not registered with the Attorney General's Office to solicit funds for charity, as required by law. Attempts by Nixon's office to obtain more information from the defendants prior to filing the lawsuit received no response.
Nixon is asking the court to order the defendants to pay full restitution to all consumers who bought raffle tickets; to order the defendants to pay civil penalties; to order the defendants to pay to the state an amount of money equal to ten percent of the total restitution ordered against them; and to order the defendants to pay all court, investigative and prosecution costs in this case.