June 14, 2013
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced a temporary restraining order and a lawsuit in the St. Charles County Circuit Court against William Harshbarger of St. Charles, alleging that Harshbarger fraudulently took money from givers by falsely claiming to be collecting donations on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project.
According to Koster, Harshbarger solicited donations outside retail stores in St. Charles and St. Louis Counties, claiming to be affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project, a national nonprofit veteran-service organization. Koster filed the action after being alerted by the Florida-based organization earlier this week that Harshbarger is not affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project, nor has he provided any donations to the organization.
"Those who would dishonor our veterans through deceit, and take advantage of Missouri's charitable spirit, will be pursued by my office," said Koster. "We will take swift action against those who prey on the goodwill of Missourians, especially on their goodwill towards those who have sacrificed so much for our country."
Today's court order immediately prohibits Harshbarger from unlawfully soliciting charitable donations and freezes the bank account where it is believed he is depositing donated funds. Koster's lawsuit asks the court for a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant from soliciting money for the organization, monetary restitution for those who have already contributed to him, and civil penalties.
The Attorney General's suit alleges Harshbarger solicited donations from passersby in front of area retail stores, such as Wal-Mart, Schnucks, and Cabellas. He has also been reported outside River City Rascal's games and at the annual St. Charles Moose Lodge Car Show. While soliciting funds, Harshbarger often wears a Wounded Warriors Project t-shirt, places donations into an ammo box decorated with Wounded Warrior Project stickers, and displays a falsified letter purporting to authorize him to solicit for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Koster alleges Harshbarger represents himself as heading a local Wounded Warrior Project chapter. However, according to the organization, there are no authorized Wounded Warrior Project chapters in Missouri, and Harshbarger is not authorized to collect funds or represent the Project or any of its chapters.
Anyone who encounters Harshbarger soliciting for the Wounded Warrior Project should contact local law enforcement immediately. Those who may have contributed money to Harshbarger are urged to contact the Missouri Attorney General’s consumer hotline at 800-392-8222. Charitable organizations soliciting donations in the state are required to file a registration with the Attorney General's office. Missourians should contact the Attorney General if they believe an individual or organization is engaged in misrepresentation to solicit money.