TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Attorney General Pam Bondi's Office on Friday sued the American Children's Cancer Association, a New Jersey Corporation, for operating an allegedly illegal raffle. ACCA registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to solicit charitable contributions out of a Boca Raton, Fla. virtual office without disclosing among other things, an injunction obtained against the company by the State of New Jersey.
"Additionally, ACCA President Shaun Heusen, Vice President Joseph Way, and Real Estate Agent Peter Kelly allegedly violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, Gambling Act, and Solicitation of Funds Act by soliciting charitable contributions for a "Florida Dream Home" raffle with no realistic intent or ability to award such prize." a release from Bondi's office states.
"Taking advantage of people who are seeking to make charitable contributions to help others is deplorable, and we will hold these individuals accountable for these alleged actions," said Bondi said in the statement.
ACCA allegedly offered and sold $80 raffle tickets to give away a multi-million dollar "Florida Dream Home," located in Lighthouse Point, Fla. According to the complaint, which references ACCA's 2012 tax return, the most recent available, the organization allegedly collected just over $116,000 in revenue in 2011, but spent less than $6,000 on program expenses.
The complaint alleges that, the defendants violated the following state laws:
- The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by using deceptive acts and unfair practices in the marketing and sale of the Dream House Raffle tickets;
- The Gambling Act by failing to conspicuously disclose that no purchase or contribution was necessary in all of the ACCA's advertisements, tickets, entry forms, and other materials in connection with the raffle; and
- The Solicitation Funds Act by knowingly submitting false and inaccurate information to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and making false, deceptive and misleading representations to the public in connection with solicitations for the "Florida Dream Home" raffle.
"The defendants are facing permanent injunction, full restitution to all consumers, civil penalties amounting to $10,000 per violation, attorney's fees and other relief the Court may deem appropriate," the release states.
The complaint also seeks to prohibit the defendants from engaging in any business activity or operation involving the solicitation of contributions through any drawing, raffle or drawing by chance.
To view the complaint, click on the following link: myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JMEE-9M5RZH/$file/ACCAComplaint.pdf
Source: Office of the Attorney General