Prosecutors Accuse Father, Daughter of Running False Special Olympics Fundraiser

State prosecutors charged a father and daughter last week with running a false telemarketing campaign for Special Olympics Massachusetts Inc. and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds.

Gerald Tenglund, 59, formerly a manager at the Special Olympics, and his daughter Melissa Caparella, 32, a former Special Olympics bookkeeper, were arraigned Thursday in Middlesex County Superior Court near Boston on several counts of larceny and making false business entries.

Both Tenglund and Caparella have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors are focusing on events that they allege took place between 1995 and 1999, during which time, they say, Tenglund fraudulently raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. They believe Tenglund has been running unauthorized telemarketing campaigns since 1991 and has stolen a total of approximately $1.1 million, but the prosecutors are restrained by a statute of limitations. Caparella is accused of helping to cover up the fraud.

Tenglund and Caparella were fired from the Special Olympics in 1999. Special Olympics officials said they were tipped off by a donor who discovered that a check she had submitted for the Special Olympics had been improperly endorsed.

Prosecutors accuse Tenglund of using the money he raised for personal expenses, including car loan and insurance payments, and withdrawing at least $200,000 from ATM machines and through checks. Tenglund set up a bank account to deposit funds he fraudulently raised through the campaign, the Special Olympics alleged. The account contained only $7,900 when it was seized in 1999.

Tenglund and Caparella have been released on their own recognizance on the condition that they have no contact with the Special Olympics and refrain from telemarketing activities. Both are scheduled for another hearing May 16.

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