Florida busts Palm Harbor charity ‘falsely’ promising to help wounded war vets

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PALM HARBOR (WFLA) — Florida cracked down on a fake charity in Palm Harbor Tuesday that authorities said falsely promised to use donations to help wounded veterans receive medical treatments.

Former directors of the fake non-profit, Stacey Spiegel, Allan Spiegel, and Neal Spiegel, are also under investigation.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said Healing Heroes Network, Inc. used deceptive solicitations, including misleading sweepstake mailers and a telemarketing campaign to advertise their charity. Moody’s office said the organization falsely promised to use donations to help wounded veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive medical treatments.

Investigation found that “very little” of the charitable contributions received by Healing Heroes Network were put toward their ‘mission.’ Instead, authorities said donations were used to pay professional fundraisers, online advertising fees, and the salaries of Stacey and Neal Spiegel.

“This is outrageous. The fact that anyone would exploit the service and sacrifice of our wounded military heroes to solicit money under false pretenses is deserving of the highest level of contempt,” Moody said. “Fortunately, as a result of this joint action with my counterparts in other states, HHN will be banned from soliciting donations in Florida and we will claw back some of the unlawfully obtained donations.”

The Pinellas Circuit Court is requiring the organization to permanently cease all charities. The Spiegels have also agreed to pay $95,000, which will be distributed to a veterans’ charity that provides services similar to the ones they promised.

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