“Nothing is more shameful than pocketing millions of dollars donated by good-hearted people who just wanted to help children afflicted with a terminal illness.”
These are the words of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office filed a petition in Kings County Supreme Court to shut down an organization dubbed the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation (NCLF) earlier this week.
Seeking to recover the full amount of all funds raised through fraudulent representations, evidence suggests the charity lied about how donations would be spent and instead used nearly every penny to enrich only a handful of employees. NCLF donors were hooked on the organization’s umbilical cord blood banking program, its cancer research center, and a patent application for a new lifesaving treatment for leukemia.
The petition claims none of these even exist.
The NCLF claim to run a service devoted to fulfilling the final wishes of children with terminal conditions, with very little money they raised going towards any such charitable programs, and the organization not sponsoring any Disney World trips in years. And while most donors understand that 100 percent of donations won’t go directly to the cause, such alleged abuse of strangers compassionate generosity is disturbing.
The organization has collected approximately $9.7 million from donors between April 2009 and March 2013. Of that money, 90 percent was brought in through professional fundraisers, who then kept $7.5 million as payment.
Of the $2 million that remained, $655,000 went towards alleged research at a shell organization in Israel run by NCLF founder Zvi Shor’s sister.
Shor paid himself around $600,000 in salary over the four years, plus another $600,000 in deferred compensation.
That leaves only $57,541–less than 1 percent of that $2 million–going towards direct cash assistance to leukemia patients.
New York law requires that the board of directions of a charitable organization be true overseers of the organization. The petition alleges that the “charity” was simply Shor operating the fraudulent organization from his Brooklyn basement, listing his son Shlomo Shor as a director and vice president, although the state said he just signed checks and filled in forms of his father’s direction. And the NCLF accountant allegedly filed audit reports with the Attorney General’s office, but did not conduct any audits, since the filings apparently misrepresented NCLF as having a board of more than a dozen directors as well as a separate medical advisory board.
The attorney general urges New Yorkers to continue in their generosity towards the neediest among us, but to be weary of who they are supporting.