Sept. 26--The Pennsylvania attorney general's office has sued an Ohio telemarketing firm and four Western Pennsylvania firefighter unions, accusing the firm of lying to solicit charitable donations and alleging that the unions failed to register with the state as charitable organizations.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Commonwealth Court, says Encore Music Productions of Youngstown, which solicited money for firefighter unions in McKeesport, Butler, Sharon and New Castle, has misled potential donors since 2006.
Encore solicited donations by selling tickets for local concerts to raise money for Sharon Professional Firefighters Local 417; McKeesport Local 10; New Castle Local 160; and Butler Local 114.
Encore also solicited donations for more than 30 other organizations in Ohio, which are the subject of a separate suit filed by the Ohio attorney general's office.
The suits accuse Encore and two related entities, Phil's Productions and MVP Productions, of telling donors that 100 percent of donations went to charity when in fact only 10 to 33 percent went to charity.
The suits also accuse the firms of using telemarketers who falsely identified themselves as firefighters; more than 13 of them were convicted felons.
In addition, the Pennsylvania suit says the firms failed to properly register with Pennsylvania's Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
The locals are accused of failing to register as charitable organizations with the state by using unregistered telemarketers -- the Encore employees -- instead of professional solicitors as required by law.
The state is seeking an order for the unions to stop solicitations and to pay $1,000 for each violation.
A temporary restraining order against Encore has been granted pending a permanent shutdown requested by attorneys general in both states.
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510.
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