Minnesota Attorney General accuses Florida charity of deceiving donors supporting police families

October 10, 2018

The Minnesota Attorney General has accused a Florida charity of deceiving Minnesota donors who believed they were contributing to a fund to help the families of fallen police officers.

The American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, Inc. collected $425,000 in donations from 10,000 Minnesotans from 2011 to 2017 for its “Police Family Survivors Fund,” according to the lawsuit.

Donors were told 100 percent of contributions would be used to help police families but, in reality, only about 9 percent of total donations went to the fund. The charity raised $4 million nationally last year and spent most of that on marketing materials and salaries, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said at a news conference Wednesday.

Swanson alleges the nonprofit’s claims violates the state’s charity laws and a court agreement reached in 1996 after the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office sued the charity for misleading donors.

“They take a good cause that we all want to help and they exploit it,” Swanson said.

Representatives of American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, Inc. were not immediately available to comment.

Dave Metusalem, executive director at Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, said in his 30 years in law enforcement he’s never known the Florida charity to help any Minnesota family of a fallen officer. He said preying on the public’s sympathies for police families is “unconscionable.”

Swanson’s office is asking the Minnesota courts to order the nonprofit to stop misleading Minnesotans, return money to donors and to pay additional civil penalties.

Swanson said the charity specifically targets women over age 70 who are known to donate to charity. Two Minnesota women who had given to the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, Inc. stood beside Swanson on Wednesday and said they were angry they were deceived.

Adeline Daniels, 86, of Austin, gave $470 after receiving letters soliciting money in the mail and later thank you notes.

“Who would think it wasn’t legitimate?” she said.” Yes, I am angry about it.”

Shannon Prather • 612-673-4804

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