Sunday, June 18, 2017
The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board has accepted the consent revocation of an attorney charged with embezzlement of charitable donations
The New York Daily News recently reported
The head of the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation was charged with fraud and embezzling nearly $150,000 from the charity and spending it at clubs, hotels and restaurants in Maryland.
John Thomas Burch, a veteran who worked as an attorney for the Department of Veteran Affairs, is accused of skimming money from the charity between 2012 and 2016, according to a recently filed lawsuit.
He was able to easily access the funds as he had “unilateral control over the distribution of smaller grants,” typically between $100 and $300, for the foundation’s “Emergency Assistance Program.”
According to its tax filing, the Vietnam Veterans Foundation pulled in nearly $30 million in donations between 2010 and 2014 — but less than 2% was actually put toward veterans in need, CNN reported.
The 2014 tax returns indicate a series of expenses paid for by donations including $133,000 for travel, $21,000 for unnamed “awards,” $70,000 for “other expenses” and just more than $8,000 on parking. The majority of the remaining funds were given to professional fundraisers and telemarketers.
Overall, the charity in 2014 accounted for just $122,000 in donations out of more than $8.5 million.
Charity Navigator, a well-known watchdog organization, previously gave the National Vietnam Veterans Association a zero-star rating on a four-star scale.
The charity — which claimed to partake in noble ventures including feeding homeless and unemployed veterans and donating care kits to hospitalized veterans — permanently closed down in September 2016 following a CNN investigation.
Its supposed mission was “to provide help and support for American Veterans and their families through the generosity of the American people.”
The findings of the New York Attorney General are appended to the revocation order and includes the allegation that he used Foundation funds to
support his expensive lifestyle and tastes... ordering excessive and expensive food and drink at meals at the country's top restaurants and lavishing gifts (monetary and otherwise) on women that had either no or only a tangential relationship to a veteran.
The AG found that he had spent $800 at a Baltimore nightclub and categorized the expense as "work on homelessness" and on veteran's issues. (Mike Frisch)