June 17, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster said today that Richard Divers, of Independence, has pled guilty to five counts of Unlawful Merchandising Practices, a class D felony, involving fraudulently soliciting charitable donations.
Koster said Divers ran a telemarketing operation that solicited donations for handicapped veterans, senior citizens, blind persons, and a Lions Club. The Lions Club had terminated its agreement with Divers, and the other charitable organizations simply did not exist. When a victim agreed to donate after receiving a solicitation call, one of Divers’ employees would pick up the check and give it to Divers, who then would deposit it into a bank account he controlled. No donations ever were made to any charitable cause – the money all went to Divers for his personal use.
Koster said his office investigated and prosecuted this case as part of Operation Broken Charity, a nationwide “sweep” of fraudulent fundraisers claiming to help police, firefighters, and veterans, which he launched in 2009.
According to the plea agreement, Divers will be sentenced to three years in prison on each of the five counts, to run concurrently.
Koster advises Missourians to be cautious when making charitable donations. Donors should obtain verifiable information about the charitable organization represented; use a credit card or check for donating so there is a record of the expense; and use Check-a-Charity on the Attorney General’s website at www.ago.mo.gov to make sure the charity you are considering uses your generous donation wisely.