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Mill Creek couple accused of pocketing cash donations
The state Attorney General’s Office is accusing a Mill Creek couple of soliciting donations with the false claim that the money would go to help disabled children.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Ask before you give
The state Attorney General’s Office recommends asking a solicitor for written material about the charity to research if donations help other charities as claimed. Also ask if the solicitor is registered with the Secretary of State’s Office. The office also warns that some fraudulent charities may have names that sound like well-established charities.
If you’ve been the victim of a consumer scam, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-800-551-4636 or visit http://www.atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx.
The tables were colorful, draped with “Kures 4 Kids” banners of multiracial stick figures holding hands and with the words, “We Really Need Your Help.’’
But few, if any, of the donations collected at those tables — and others in Issaquah, Redmond and other locations — went to charities, according to the state Attorney General’s Office, which filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court on Wednesday.
Much of the cash went to Michael and Amy Gannon, a Mill Creek couple, or their paid solicitors, according to the complaint accusing the Gannons of multiple violations of the Consumer Protection Act and the Charitable Solicitation Act.
Between October 2012 and June 2013, the Gannons recorded more than $35,000 in donations. Of that, their records say they gave $3,500 to charities, according to court documents.
The documents also say that because the donations are in cash, it is difficult to know how much was raised at any one time or to find and compensate the donors who were told they were giving to a cause that helped disabled children, which the suit says was not true.
Michael Gannon said much of the information the Attorney General’s Office released Wednesday is incorrect. “We’re working with the attorney general and will do what we need to get this cleared up,” he said.
The complaint seeks a court order against Kures 4 Kids and the Gannons.
According to the lawsuit, the Gannons violated the two acts when they: created the false impression that most or all money would be used to assist families of children with disabilities; misrepresented paid solicitors as volunteers; misrepresented their relationship with various charitable organizations they claimed to raise money for; and failed to register as a commercial fundraiser with the secretary of state.
Michael Gannon’s involvement with charitable solicitation began in March 2012. At that time, he was working as the manager of Autism Awareness United in Snohomish County, a charity operated by Rena and Joseph Searles. In February, the attorney general alleged the Searleses violated the state Consumer Protection Act and the Charitable Solicitation Act. The couple signed a consent decree prohibiting them from working in charitable solicitations, documents say.
Michael Gannon, however, was not included in the consent decree. The documents say that Gannon had incorporated Kures 4 Kids in March 2012 and that when Autism Awareness was forced to close in October 2012 he began soliciting for that agency.
Earlier, he and the Searleses had been investigated by the state Department of Financial Institutions for numerous violations of the state Mortgage Broker Practices Act. They were involved with First Columbia Mortgage Corp., which was investigated for allegedly imposing unreasonable fees and failing to make required disclosures, according to court documents.
In 2011, Gannon, Joseph Searles and others settled the accusations without admitting guilt. Gannon and Joseph Searles signed a consent decree that prohibited them from working in the mortgage field.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Nancy Bartley: email@example.com or 206-464-8522