AUSTIN (KXAN) — A charity claiming to help veterans is accused of misusing millions of donated dollars. The charge comes from the Texas Attorney General’s office. The charity Veterans Support Organization is based in Florida, with chapters here in Texas.
The 23-page lawsuit from says Veterans Support Organization deceived donors, telling them their money would help needy local veterans. But, court documents say of the $2.5 million raised in Texas from 2010 to 2012, more than 70 percent went back to Florida and Rhode Island.
Don Dorsey was a Marine Scout Sniper in the Vietnam War and is now the president of the Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans. At an Austin VFW post Friday, he was happy to hear the news.
“I’m glad to see it happen, because we’ve been monitoring these guys for a while, and no one has done anything about it,” said Dorsey.
The AG says VSO raised money through what they call structured panhandling. Proverbial hired panhandlers stand on street corners or in front of businesses. The lawsuit says sometimes they’d be out here 12 hours a day to try and raise at least $225.
“Most legitimate veteran organizations don’t solicit the way they do,” Dorsey said.
State prosecutors want to shut down VSO and get the money to veterans, whom donors intended to help out.
“We have a hard enough time getting help from the American people on anything, much less, you get people coming in and doing something like that, that draws negative attention to us.”
KXAN reached out to VSO, but did not hear back from them. The charity has come under fire in other states, too. It’s banned in South Carolina and was fined in Tennessee.