Last Defendant in Charity Fraud Case Agrees to Ban

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A man currently imprisoned on wire and mail-fraud charges involving a family-run fundraising operation agreed to a permanent ban from fundraising and telemarketing, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday.


Jonathan P. Cohen was the last defendant charged in the FTC's case against a Santa Ana, CA-based nonprofit telemarketing operation. According to the FTC, the operation employed about 70 subcontractors who raised $24 million for police, firefighters, veterans and sick-children's groups between 1995 and 1999 but gave little to charity.


Others accused of involvement in the scheme include Mitchell and Herbert Gold and their spouses, Patricia and Celia. These four settled the FTC charges against them in March by agreeing to bans from telemarketing and fundraising similar to Cohen.


In their solicitations, telemarketers working for Cohen and the Golds misrepresented that money collected would go for specific purposes, including holiday parties for children in local hospitals, wheelchairs for veterans and bulletproof vests for police officers, the FTC said. The fundraising operation worked under a corporate entity known as U.S. Marketing and North American Charitable Services Inc.


Cohen and Mitchell Gold also have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the case. Cohen is serving a 37-month sentence while Mitchell Gold is serving 96 months.


Steve Chinarian, another man named in the FTC case, agreed to a ban from fundraising activities but may continue telemarketing on the condition that he post a $100,000 bond.


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