March 5, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo. -- Attorney General Chris Koster said the St. Louis County Circuit Court has ordered Sidney Young and Our American Veterans, Inc., to pay restitution and civil penalties of $118,252 for deceptive solicitations in Missouri.
Koster said Young, of Fort Valley, Georgia, operated Our American Veterans, Inc. (OAVI), a sham nonprofit corporation claiming to help homeless veterans when in fact, the vast majority of OAVI's revenue went straight into the pockets of Sidney Young, his family, and OAVI's employees and contractors.
Koster said Young used telemarketers to convince potential donors that their donations would be distributed to "as many veterans as possible." He said that in 2007 and 2008, at least 632 Missourians gave more than $16,500 to OAVI. Koster said OAVI never meant its primary purpose to be assisting veterans. He said that in reality, less than 1 percent of the donations actually went to veterans, and not one Missouri veteran ever received assistance from OAVI.
Koster filed suit against Our American Veterans, Inc., in May when he launched "Operation Broken Charity," an initiative to crack down on fraudulent fundraisers claiming to help police, firefighters, and veterans.
"It's contemptible that people would take advantage of decent, charitable Missourians by promising to use their money help the brave people who keep us safe," Koster said. "This action should be a message to fraudulent charity fundraisers that we will not tolerate this behavior in Missouri."
Koster said that in addition to the restitution and civil penalties, the court issued an order permanently barring the defendants from soliciting in Missouri.
Koster urged Missourians to check the Attorney General's "Check a Charity" website - ago.mo.gov - for information on charities and the percentage of their donations that are used for program services.