Ohio Cops for Kids 'Charity' Accused of Running Multi-Million-Dollar Fraud Scheme

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Alleging that the charitable organization Ohio Cops for Kids spent only 2 percent of its donations on actual charity, Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit today in an attempt to shut down the operation. The lawsuit argues that Cops for Kids organizers Thomas Duffy and Charles Hitzel — and their for-profit charity solicitor, Telcom Enterprises — used contractual language to pocket almost all of the $4.2 million in donations received from 2005 to 2015.

“We believe Cops for Kids is a sham operation that has defrauded Ohioans out of millions of dollars while performing almost no legitimate charitable work," DeWine said today.

All told, the group spent just $73,840 on charitable purposes in that 10-year period, according to state investigators.

Ohio Cops for Kids is a supposed youth charity based in Ashtabula. The group purports to fund law enforcement education programming and "activities and events that involve kids of all ages." In reality, DeWine's office alleges, the group has basically just been sending boxes of teddy bears to police departments.

The millions of dollars in financial donations, which came from countless Ohioans over the years, went to the group's leaders, investigators claim. “There are plenty of children’s and law enforcement groups that could use support, so to run this kind of scheme is shameful,” DeWine said in public statements.

Ohio Cops for Kids claims to be "Ohio's Number 1 Children's Charity!" on its Facebook page.

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