The 9/11 Charity Fraud Shame List

The Associated Press checked in with 325 charities founded in the wake of 9/11, many of which are still active. Most of them were doing nice things! But a bunch were doing ethically dubious, borderline fraudulent things, frittering away millions of benevolently bestowed dollars.

Examples:

  • Arizona resident Kevin Held reportedly raised $713,000 to create a 9/11 memorial quilt "big enough to cover 25 football fields." He gave himself a a $175,000 salary, a $200 weekly car allowance, "rent reimbursement," and unreported "loans." He paid his family members "consulting fees." He apparently said a Catholic priest was the chairman of his charity's board, but the Catholic priest wasn't even aware of it. He told lies about the origin of his charity. He will soon move into a $660,000 five-bedroom home overlooking a lake, the AP reports. Total memorial quilt output: "several hundred decorated sheets packed in boxes at a storage unit."
  • Connecticut resident John Michelotti reportedly raised $140,000 for his Flag of Honor/Flag of Heroes Project. He used the money to launch a for-profit company that produces flags printed with the names of 9/11's dead for $5 in China, then sells them for $25 a pop stateside under the guise of contributing to a "fund to help those that were affected," the AP reports. He hasn't donated any proceeds to charity, yet, but he says he's going to start soon! He will donate 70 cents from the sale of each flag (pictured above) and keep $19.30 for himself. Oh, and he gave $15,000 charity once. Good for him.
  • Based in a church near Ground Zero, Rev. Carl Keyes reportedly raised more than $4 million "to help victims and first responders" with the help of a Christian TV telethon. His 9/11 charity, Urban Life Ministries, has accounted for the use of only $670,000 of its funds since 2001, the AP reports. Keyes says his organization did nothing wrong, they're just "bad managers."
  • Harley aficionado Theodore Sjurseth organizes an annual 9/11 memorial motorcycle ride. His charity had "nearly $2.2 million in gross revenue between 2003 and last year." It reportedly spends less than 20 percent of the money it raises on charitable causes; the rest goes towards hotel rooms, meals, and entertainment for ride participants. After those other tales of crass greed, this one seems almost quaint! Just run-of-the-mill mismanagement and obnoxious priorities.

Read all the rage-inducing tales of 9/11 profiteers, frauds, and fools here. [AP, image via FlagofHonor.org]