SEATTLE – The Attorney General’s Office announced a settlement today with an Everett man accused of violating the state’s charity laws by improperly soliciting donations. Darin Anthony Dewitt agreed to refund consumers who made donations to Blind Children Services of Puget Sound, which he owned.
The Attorney General’s Office sued Blind Children Services of Puget Sound on Jan. 18 in Snohomish County Superior Court, along with Dewitt and another connected individual, Robert Melbourne Shay.
“Charities that solicit donations must register with the Washington’s Secretary of State’s Office and report how they are spending donations,” said Assistant Attorney General Shannon Smith. “Organizations that fail to register are breaking the law and can be required to pay penalties and refund donors.”
Attorney General Rob McKenna and Smith discussed the case today during a joint press conference with Secretary of State Sam Reed and AARP State Director Doug Shadel focused on charitable giving.
Blind Children Services of Puget Sound was registered from April 9, 2003, until May 6, 2005, when the Secretary of State’s Office canceled the registration because the organization failed to renew.
The defendants nevertheless continued to solicit donations until at least March 2006 and failed to maintain accurate financial records. The defendants sometimes used other names including Abandoned Children’s Foundation, American Blind Children’s Council and Handicapped Children’s Outreach.
Dewitt and Blind Children Services agreed to pay $613 restitution plus $2,000 in attorneys’ fees. The settlement also includes $16,500 in civil penalties, suspended provided they do not commit additional violations.
Shay, of Edmonds, managed the organization’s finances. He agreed in August to the same terms and penalties as Dewitt. Also in August, Shay agreed to pay restitution for violating state charity laws when he solicited donations for Veterans of Western Washington.
RELATED NEWS: The Secretary of State’s Office today released its annual report on paid fundraisers who solicit donations on behalf of charities. During today’s joint press conference, McKenna and Reed joined volunteers in the AARP Fraud Fighter Call Center in reaching out to Washington residents with tips and tools about wise charitable giving. As part of “Operation Check Before You Give,” trained call center volunteers will contact more than 2,000 consumers during the holidays.
To confirm that a charity is registered in Washington, call the Secretary of State’s Charities Information Hotline at (800) 332-4483 or search online at www.secstate.wa.gov/charities.
Blind Children Services of Puget Sound Complaint
Stipulated Judgment and Order: Blind Children Services of Puget Sound and Darin Dewitt
Stipulated Judgment and Order: Robert M. Shay
- 30 –
Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432