Law enforcement assistance charity misused $208K, NJ lawsuit says
BRICK — A charity that said it raised money for law enforcement officers injured or killed in the line of duty, and their families, is accused by the state of New Jersey of instead misdirecting more than $200,000 in donations to finance the personal expenses of its board members.
The lawsuit announced Friday by Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck and the Division of Consumer Affairs names the National Police Relief Association, based in Brick, vice president Frank John and secretary Antoinette John, who are married, and the estate of deceased former president Michael Davis as defendants.
According to the complaint filed in the case, Davis and Frank John previously worked for the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
The complaint alleges that the Johns paid themselves about $185,000 out of the $208,000 in donations the state said were misused from 2014 to 2020, with another nearly $25,000 spent on travel, dining, and automobile expenses for board members, including the defendants, highlighted by a more than $7,000 allocation for a Walt Disney World vacation.
Not only did the misappropriated money have no "apparent connection" or "discernible link" to the charity's stated purpose, the OAG release said, but the Johns also failed to report the money they allegedly took as income.
Furthermore, the state's complaint found that out of almost $2.5 million in reported contributions between 2014 and 2019, less than $14,000 ultimately made it into the hands of the families of officers who had died in the line of duty.
The state said it has obtained a temporary restraining order intended to freeze the organization's assets, barring the defendants from soliciting further donations, moving any funds out of the charitable account, or destroying records.
Ultimately, the complaint intends to return any illicitly-received money, dissolve the National Police Relief Association and its website, and prohibit Frank and Antoinette John from running other charities in the state.
The Division of Consumer Affairs is encouraging New Jerseyans to identify legitimate charities through its "New Jersey Charity Search" app, and report anything suspicious through its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.
Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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