Paso Robles Police officer presides over fraudulent charity
June 3, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
State Attorney General Edmond G. Brown filed a lawsuit against the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs (COPS) alleging they engage in “unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices,” on May 29.
Paso Robles Police officer Nicki Woods currently holds the position of board president of that agency. The state complaint lists 13 causes of action that include allegations that the Civic Development Group (CDG), the telemarketing firm COPS contracts with, repeatedly deceived donors.
“Donors were led to believe that 100 percent of their donation would benefit COPS, when in reality, CDG received 85 percent of each donation and COPS retained less than 15 percent,” says the state’s complaint which quotes directly from the telemarketers’ prepared scripts.
The state claims the group conspired to defraud donors, violated federal laws regarding deceptive and abusive telemarketing practices, and committed registration and reporting fraud.
COPS solicitors told donors a portion of each contribution would be used to assist at-risk children. In 2006, no COPS funds were used to help children. Of the $11.4 million in donations received in 2007, only $500 went to help children.
During 2005 and 2006, animal lovers donated 18 million to COPS solicitors, after hearing a pitch that the funds would be used to provide veterinary care for service animals injured in the line of duty. Of those donations, less than $6,000 went to canine care. In 2007, the group provided no funds to assist canine officers.
The group’s 2006 IRS 990 Form states that more than $1.5 million was spent on directors, officers, and key employee pay. On the same form, in an area the charity is required to list all officers, directors, and key employees regardless if paid or not, COPS claims $150,925 for the group’s Executive Director, Monty Holden.
CDG officials and COPS board members “were responsible to ensure that COPS engaged in fair, truthful, and lawful solicitation and were prohibited from engaging in deceptive and misleading solicitation practices,” the state’s claim says. “Because defendants engaged in gross abuse of authority or discretion in their management of COPS, and because they breached a charitable trust, they should be permanently removed from COPS’ board and barred from re-election.”
In 1987, Woods began her career with the Paso Police Department as a patrol officer and eventually made sergeant. The department awarded her the Paso Robles Police Department Distinguished Service Award in both 1995 and 1997, according to the COPS web site. She has been on the COPS board of directors since 1997.
Paso Robles Chief of Police Lisa Solomon has also served on the COPS board of directors.
COPS is a highly political organization which in the past has endorsed numerous candidates. The group is currently taking heat for false allegations that former Gov. Gray Davis illegally accepted campaign contributions, according to FOX News.