Cox announces conviction in donation box scam

Attorney General Mike Cox announced that an Ingham County Jury convicted Joseph Carr of one count of false pretenses over $1,000, a five-year felony, one count of soliciting charitable donations without a license, a six-month misdemeanor, and one count of acting as a professional fundraiser without filing a license application, a six-month misdemeanor. Those convictions were the result of Cox's charges against Carr for preying on mid-Michigan residents' generosity by placing charitable donation collection boxes in nearly 90 local businesses as a part of a ''Missing Children'' charity scam.

''Taking advantage of Michigan citizens who want to help reunite missing children with their families is beyond the pale,'' said Cox. ''Every day, thousands of local charities across our state serve Michigan communities honorably. We will continue to prosecute criminals who exploit the generosity of Michigan residents.''

Joseph Carr, 55, of Williamston placed collection boxes at 88 retail locations across Lansing, East Lansing, Grand Ledge, Holt, Okemos and Williamston. From February through June, 2009, Carr collected between $1,500 and $2,000 a month from unsuspecting customers who were told their donations would be used to help find missing children through an organization called the ''Beacon Project.'' Instead, Carr allegedly used the money to pay his personal living expenses.

Michigan law requires most charities apply for and receive a solicitation license from the Attorney General's Office. In addition, professional fundraisers, like Carr, who receive money for soliciting charitable donations must also obtain a license and maintain a $10,000 bond for the protection of charities and the public. Carr's sentencing is scheduled for October 27, 2010 at 8:30AM before Judge Joyce Draganchuk.

For tips on wise charitable giving, or to see if a charity is licensed to solicit in Michigan, please visit www.michigan. gov/ag and click on ''Charities,'' or call the Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section at (517) 373-1152.

Copyright © 2010 State of Michigan

Published: Thu, Oct 14, 2010