A West Bloomfield man set up phony veterans' charities with similar-sounding names to national charities in a telemarketing scam, according to the Michigan Attorney General's Office.
Authorities said in a release issued Friday that Neil Thrasher, 37, collected more than $100,000 from January 2009 through April 2012 and spent the money at athletic clubs, liquor stores and restaurants.
The vast majority of money collected was allegedly never being used to help veterans or given to veterans organizations, according to the release.
Authorities said Thrasher's charities were called the Paralyzed American Veterans and Disabled Veterans of America — similar to two national veterans' organizations, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans.
Thrasher created the charities in Farmington Hills and Southfield, according to the release.
"Creating phony charities for personal gain violates state law and abuses the public trust," Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a release. "Pocketing funds that were generously donated to aid disabled veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country is especially reprehensible."
Authorities said he surrendered and has been charged with two counts of embezzlement from a charitable organization, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine, and one count of violating the Charitable Solicitation Act, which carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Schuette stopped another bogus charity Thrasher started called the Veterans of America Foundation this past May, according to the release. No criminal charges have been filed in connection with that organization.
People are encouraged to report any future solicitations by the Paralyzed American Veterans, Disabled Veterans of America or the Veterans of America Foundation to the Michigan Attorney General's Office Charitable Trust Section by calling (517) 373-1152 or emailing email@example.com. Complaints can also be mailed to Charitable Trust Section, P.O. Box 30214, Lansing, MI 48909.