New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Reaches Settlement With Sussex County Horse Rescue Charity
NEWARK - The State Division of Consumer Affairs has settled its
investigation of an unregistered charity that rescues horses, with two trustees of the organization agreeing to pay $6,000 back to the organization, under terms of the Consent Order.
Therese A. Figueroa, 55, and Cynthia J. Millar, 36, both of Branchville, each have paid $3,000 to The Arabian Rescue Mission, Inc. (“ARM”). Both are trustees of ARM.
ARM, which operates a facility in Wantage Township, has never been registered as a charitable organization with the Division of Consumer Affairs as required. During its investigation, the Division determined that Figueroa and Millar commingled charitable donations with payments made to a for-profit stable operating on the same Wantage Township property as the horse rescue organization.
Additionally, the for-profit stable charged ARM for boarding and feeding horses, but payments records were inconsistent and incomplete.
“Potential donors did not receive, and could not get, the financial transparency from this organization that they are entitled to,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “The Arabian Rescue Mission now is registered and it will annually report financial information required under state law.”
ARM’s federal taxpayer identification number was used by other organizations unaffiliated with it, the investigation found.
A $25,000 civil penalty assessed against ARM, Figueroa, and Millar is suspended but can be reinstated if the terms of the Consent Order are not met.
“We’ve increased the public’s focus on how charities use contributions through our ongoing ‘Investigate Before You Donate’ initiative,” said Thomas R. Calcagni, Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. “Consumers should always check whether a charity is registered to solicit donations in New Jersey, and how those donations are spent.”
The “Investigate Before You Donate” initiative launched last year includes a bi-monthly report on the 10 most inquired about charities at the Division’s Charities Registration Section. The report for each charity details spending on the charitable program’s purpose, fundraising, and management/general expenses.
Anna Lascurain, Special Deputy in Litigation, represented the State in this matter. Supervising Investigator Larry Biondo and Investigator Patrick Mullan in the Charities and Fundraising Fraud Unit conducted the investigation.
The Division’s Charities Hotline may be reached at 973-504-6215 during regular business hours.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.
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