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Veterans Group That Fraudulently Collected $425K Ordered To Close, Distribute Funds To Other Organizations
A nonprofit that sought and collected donations supposedly for paid phone cards for veterans and their families was ordered by a Minnesota court Thursday to shut down after the state attorney general’s office found the charity fraudulently collected hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Along with closing operations, Colorado-based TREA (The Retired Enlisted Association) Memorial Foundation must come up with more than $400,000 that will be distributed to legitimate veterans-support groups in the state, according to the Minnesota attorney general’s office, which prevailed in Ramsey County District Court.
The foundation “did not purchase a single phone card to veterans or their families for years — all while it collected hundreds of thousands in contributions from Minnesotans,” read a statement from the office of Attorney General Lori Swanson.
TREA, based in Centennial, Colo., “has agreed to this settlement,” said Swanson’s spokesman, Ben Wogsland. TREA has 60 days to pay out the money to veterans-related charities, which have yet to be identified, and 90 days to close shop, Wogsland said.
While TREA solicits money around the country and has many chapters in every U.S. time zone, Minnesota is the first state to win such a court order against TREA, Wogsland said.
Between 2012 and 2017, the foundation raised at least $14 million nationwide and more than $345,000 of that total from Minnesotans through professional fundraiser Jeremy Squire and Associates, according to Swanson’s office. Most of the money, Wogsland said, went to pay the fundraiser.
About half of the mailed solicitations sent in Minnesota using the name “The Armed Forces Aid Campaign” that promised the donations would help provide a phone card to allow a soldier or veteran call home.
One mailing pledged the foundation would “use your gift to put a live, activated VA Hospital Phone Card in the hands of one of America’s Heroes.”
No cards were handed out after 2014, and TREA’s total spending on phone cards from that year through 2017 represented less than 0.9 percent of the nearly $9 million it collected in donations.
“Minnesota is home to more than 330,000 veterans and is one of the most generous states in the country,” Swanson said. Charities that take advantage of the desire to give back to service members, veterans, and their families using deception have no place in Minnesota.”
TREA Memorial Foundation Chairman Thomas Liebaert, of Superior, Wis., signed off on the settlement. He was not immediately available to comment about the court order. A message also was left with another TREA signatory, national president Philip Hilinski, of Akron, Ohio.
©2018 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.
Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.
Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.
Packages containing suspected heroin were found in the home of the driver charged with killing seven motorcyclists Friday in the North Country, authorities said Monday.
Massachusetts State Police said the packages were discovered when its Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and New Hampshire State police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his West Springfield home. The packages will be tested for heroin, they said.
Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in connection with the North Country crash on Friday evening that killed seven riders associated with Jarhead Motorcycle Club, a club for Marines and select Navy corpsmen.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.