ANNAPOLIS -- A Florida promoter has been ordered to pay more than $2.3 million in fines and restitution resulting from an illegal charity solicitation scheme, Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran announced.
Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. signed the order against Richard G. Garden of Sarasota, Fla., last week.
Garden, whose telephone solicitations were conducted in Maryland between 1984 and 1986, was ordered to pay $1.7 million in civil fines and almost $615,000 in restitution to handicapped and retarded youths who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of circuses and ice shows promoted by the bogus operation, Curran said.
The solicitations used the names of Baltimore and Washington charities and service organizations, including the Optimists, Kiwanis and Lions clubs, Knights of Columbus, a volunteer fire department and the Missing Children of Greater Washington organization. The 12 solicitations violated the state's Consumer Protection Act, Curran said.
Court papers filed by Curran's office showed that more than 17,000 residents were told that tickets they bought would be given to handicapped or retarded youths. "Few, if any, tickets found their way to the children who were supposed to receive them," the documents said. "Indeed, the number of tickets sold far exceeded even the number of seats available at the shows."
Three of Garden's associates, identified as Ernest DeMartino, Kerry Cimber and Robert Verbeem, also were named as liable for the restitution and fines. Three companies used in the scheme were also listed as liable for the judgment, Curran said.
According to court papers, Garden and his associates promised a guaranteed sum to established local charities for hosting the "Toby Tyler" circus and the ice shows.