DENVER - Attorney General Suthers today announced that his office has settled the first in a series of lawsuits filed by his Consumer Protection Section against local charities and their officers.The settlement announced today involves Front Range Charitable Services and founder and president Colleen Gardenour.
“Charities that operate outside the law hurt not only those making the donation, but cast a negative pall over legitimate charities as well,” said Suthers.“My office will continue to work with the Secretary of State and with legitimate charities to identify and stop fraudulent charitable practices.”
In August, the Attorney General filed suit against Front Range Charitable Services and Gardenour alleging that Gardenour spent most of the money on herself and paid solicitors, and that very little money was spent on any legitimate charitable purposes. Written literature provided by Front Range stated that donations would provide emergency services to local residents in crisis and be spent on food, shelter, clothing, health care kits and school supplies. However, Front Range’s bank records indicate that nearly all the money collected was paid out to Gardenour, her relatives and employees.
Further, the suit alleged that Front Range had repeatedly violated the State’s charity registration requirements by failing to register as a charity, using individuals to raise funds that were not registered as paid solicitors, and failing to file required financial reports.
Under the settlement, neither Gardenour nor Front Range may engage in any future charitable fundraising activities for any organization, and Front Range must cease operations as a charity.Gardenour must pay a $4,000 civil penalty and $10,000 in restitution.Front Range must pay an additional $10,000 civil penalty and $10,000 in restitution.
Consumers with complaints regarding charitable fraud may call the Colorado Consumer Line toll-free 1-800-222-4444 (in Colorado) or 1-800-332-2071 (out of state) or may download a complaint form from http://www.ago.state.co.us/consline/complaint.pdf. Consumers should check the registration status, financial statements, and campaign reports of charities and paid solicitors before making any charitable donation.That information is available on the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.state.co.us/ccsa/CcsaInquiryMain.do.