The Virginia attorney general's office has accused a Springfield fund-raising company of defrauding contributors of money that it solicited on behalf of several Northern Virginia civic organizations for charity fund-raising events.
Virginia Telemarketing Inc. "unjustly enriched themselves in an amount currently unknown" by offering thousands of nonexistent passes to numerous fund-raising events in return for donations, according to a suit filed in Fairfax Circuit Court by Attorney General Mary Sue Terry.
Robert J. Duchano, president of the company, denied the charges.
"The money we take in is thousands and thousands of dollars," he said. "The profits go to our clients after paying all the bills."
Duchano said the organizations receive 10 to 15 percent of the money raised through the telephone solicitations.
The attorney general is asking the court to prohibit the company from using "deceptive and misleading practices" and to order it to refund the money it collected.
The company, in soliciting contributions to sponsor handicapped, elderly or other persons at concerts, circuses and other events, allegedly collected contributions for many more passes than were available for the events, according to the suit.
In one case, the telephone solicitation agency collected enough contributions on behalf of the Manassas Jaycees and Annandale Kiwanis to sponsor 31,000 people at a circus in a stadium that seated 2,000 people, court papers said. The lawsuit alleged that 3,000 passes actually were distributed.
"We are taking the position that all the money was taken under false pretenses," a spokesman for Terry said yesterday.
The New York attorney general's office found irregularities in the operations of the company two years ago, according to Assistant Attorney General Patricia Pancoe. The office entered into an agreement in which the firm agreed to offer 50 percent refunds to contributors and to change some of its procedures, she said.
Other cases cited in the Virginia lawsuit alleged:
*For a Dec. 10, 1984, concert for the Falls Church Police Association, the group solicited $134,126, enough for 26,825 passes in a hall that seats 591. About 1,700 passes were distributed.
*For a March 24, 1985, concert for the Springfield Kiwanis Club, $64,489.05 was solicited, enough for about 12,800 passes at $5 each. Of that number, 850 passes were distributed and 500 persons attended the concert.
*For a Dec. 16, 1985, concert for the Falls Church Police Association, $195,590 was solicited for a hall with a capacity of 591 and 1,500 passes were distributed.