A fundraising company that duped people into giving money to a sham breast cancer charity will have to pay $3.1 million in restitution, a state judge has ordered. Nearly all of that money will be given to legitimate breast cancer charities through a fund set up by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who brought the case against Lindenhurst-based Campaign Center Inc. and its principal, Garrett Morgan of West Islip.
Schneiderman hailed Tuesday's decision by Supreme Court Judge Emily Pines in Suffolk, calling charitable fundraising scams "among the lowest of the low."
"This decision proves that New York fundraisers will be held accountable when they defraud the public and line their own pockets," he said in a statement.
Last month Pines issued a summary judgment in civil court against the company and Morgan. She ordered the company to close and permanently barred Morgan from doing charitable fundraising in New York. They had been charged with violating state laws in a scheme in which telemarketers solicited donations for the charity Coalition Against Breast Cancer. Morgan did not return calls for comment.
Pines' decision said that from 2005 to 2011 the Campaign Center raised $4.9 million on behalf of the charity but kept $3.9 million for itself. The charity played on people's emotions to get them to donate money in the hopes of fighting breast cancer, but little of the money ever went to research or medical services, Schneiderman said.
During those years, fundraisers, including the Campaign Center, raised $10 million for the Coalition Against Breast Cancer, but the charity only spent 4 percent of that on charitable purposes, according to the judge's decision.
The nonprofit was shut down and its former directors -- treasurer Andrew Smith, director of development Debra Koppleman and president Patricia Scott -- in April agreed to pay $1.6 million in restitution and to never again run a charity in the state.