01/12/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/13/2021 12:35
The multistate investigation revealed that the organizations falsely promised to use donations to help wounded veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive medical treatments. In 2016 and 2017, the charity also falsely claimed on social media that it dedicated 100% of its proceeds to wounded veterans. The investigation found that very little of the charitable contributions received by HHN were used to further this charitable mission. Instead, donations were used to pay professional fundraisers, online advertising fees, the salaries of Stacey Spiegel and son, Neal Spiegel, and to purchase t-shirts from a relative's apparel business.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, 'This is outrageous. The fact that anyone would exploit the service and sacrifice of our wounded military heroes to solicit money under false pretenses is deserving of the highest level of contempt. Fortunately, as a result of this joint action with my counterparts in other states, HHN will be banned from soliciting donations in Florida and we will claw back some of the unlawfully obtained donations.'
The stipulated judgment approved by the Pinellas Circuit Court requires HHN and Hero Giveaways to permanently cease all charitable solicitations. Stacey Spiegel, Allan Spiegel and Neal Spiegel have also agreed to pay $95,000, which will be distributed to a veterans' charity that provides services similar to those HHN had represented it would provide. The defendants are also subject to a five-year ban from overseeing, managing or soliciting charitable contributions for any nonprofit organization.
In addition to Florida, the action was joined by the states of California, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia and Washington. Assistant Attorney General Ellen Annaliese Bullock and Chief Assistant Attorney General Donna Valin of the Consumer Protection Division handled this action for the Florida Attorney General's Office.
This action follows similar actions taken by the Florida Attorney General's Office and other states to stop fraudulent charities affecting veterans and servicemen and women, resulting in recovery of donations totaling $2,340,572 that were redirected to charities that would apply the funds to assist veterans and the military. Three prior cases include a stipulated final