*Pennsylvania Judge Hits Telemarketer, Charity With Fines

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A Pennsylvania judge slapped a North Carolina telemarketer with a $3.6 million civil penalty yesterday and fined an unregistered charity $188,000 for illegal fundraising.

Commonwealth Court Senior Judge Warren G. Morgan ruled against Telcom Telemarketing Services and the National Vietnam Veterans Coalition Foundation of Florida. Morgan also banned Telcom Telemarketing from conducting fundraising activities for three years, and neither organization can raise funds in Pennsylvania until they pay their fines in full.

The fines were levied following a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher. His suit stemmed from a telemarketing fundraising campaign that occurred between April 1995 and March 1997 that raised $578,000 from donors throughout the state.

The suit alleged that only 17 percent of the funds collected went to the charity. Also, the suit charged that Telcom Telemarketing representatives failed to identify themselves as professional solicitors during telemarketing calls as required by state law.

Those who were solicited were told their donations would benefit Pennsylvania veterans of the Vietnam War, Fisher said. In reality, most of the money went to Telcom Telemarketing.

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