Government says four cancer charities are shams

In a rare joint action with attorneys general for each of the 50 states, the Federal Trade Commission says four cancer charities run by extended members of the same family conned donors out of $187 million from 2008 through 2012 and spent almost nothing to help actual cancer patients.

Each of the charities charged were the subject of extensive reporting by CNN in 2013. And in each instance, none of the four charities would comment. We were ordered out of the building at the Cancer Fund of America in Knoxville, Tennessee, and were the object of an obscene gesture by the CEO of The Breast Cancer Society in Mesa, Arizona.

The Cancer Fund of America is run by James Reynolds Sr. His son James Reynolds Jr. is the CEO of the Breast Cancer Society. Another charity, the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, is run by Rose Perkins, the ex-wife of the elder James Reynolds. He’s also the CEO of the fourth charity, Cancer Support Services.

The government says the charities claimed to provide direct support for cancer patients, breast cancer patients and children with cancer.

“These were lies,” the government’s complaint says.

Jessica Rich, chief of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, says that in all, the charities spent about 97% of donations they received either on private fundraisers or on themselves. Only 3%, she says, went to help actual cancer patients.

According to the complaint, funds donated to help cancer patients instead went for personal use, in often lavish ways.

“[D]onated funds were used to pay for vehicles, personal consumer goods, college tuition, gym memberships, Jet Ski outings, dating website subscriptions, luxury cruises, and tickets to concerts and professional sporting events,” the complaint says.

“Most of what we are doing is bringing actions against fraud,” says Rich. “And this is as about as bad as it can get: taking money away from cancer victims.”

As a result of the complaint, two of the charities say they will close their doors. Both the Breast Cancer Society and the Children’s Cancer Fund of America are being dissolved, according to the complaint. James Reynolds Jr. faces a judgment of more than $60 million in fines and Rose Perkins, who runs the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, faces a judgment of around $30 million.

Under a proposed final order, the judgment against Reynolds Jr. will be suspended when he pays $75,000. The judgments against Children’s Cancer Fund of America will be partly met upon liquidation of its assets, and the judgment against Perkins will be suspended due to her inability to pay.

The FTC’s Jessica Rich, however, said there are few assets left. Government regulators will be lucky to recover $1 million, Rich was quoted on cnn.com.

In a message posted on the Breast Cancer Society website, Reynolds Jr. said:

“While the organization, its officers and directors have not been found guilty of any allegations of wrong doing, and the government has not proven otherwise, our Board of Directors has decided that it does not help those who we seek to serve, and those who remain in need, for us to engage in a highly publicized, expensive, and distracting legal battle around our fundraising practices.”

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Dru Tyler has been a contributing writer for the Pluto Daily since March of 2013. He is also the owner and founder of the rap news site, www.DailyRapNews.com