Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- Thursday, February 3, 1998.
Contact Bill Brauch -- 515-281-8772

Las Vegas Telemarketer Going to Prison for Bilking Woman
in Aplington Area in Northeast Iowa

Jury in Butler County convicted Dan Doherty of First Degree Fraudulent Practice for stealing $33,000 from Aplington area victim.

DES MOINES.-- When Dan Doherty completes an eight-month federal prison sentence Wednesday in Minnesota he won't walk out a free man: Doherty will be transported to Butler County, Iowa, to begin a sentence of up to ten years in prison on a felony conviction of bilking an older Iowa woman out of $33,000 in a phony-charity telemarketing fraud scheme.

The Attorney General's Office filed criminal charges against Doherty on December 7, 1995, as part of "Operation Senior Sentinel" -- a crackdown by federal and state authorities that relied heavily on the undercover telephone "sting" technique pioneered by the Consumer Protection Division in Iowa.

The State alleged that Doherty took $33,000 from the 85-year-old Aplington area woman based on calls he made from Las Vegas, Nevada, for "Save America Foundation." Doherty convinced the woman to send numerous major contributions that supposedly were to support charitable causes such as helping victims of flooding in California and Missouri and the bombing in Oklahoma City. Prosecutors alleged Doherty told many lies in the solicitations and also deceptively told the Iowa woman that she was going to receive a major corporate financial award herself in recognition of her generous gifts.

On July 12, 1996, Doherty was convicted by a Butler County jury in Allison. Judge Bryan McKinley sentenced Doherty to the maximum of up to ten years in prison. Doherty filed an appeal and was released on bond. He later dropped his appeal, but his troubles were mounting with other authorities as well.

On October 10, 1996, Doherty pled guilty to a felony in Missouri for stealing money from an elderly woman there as part of a similar scheme he was involved in from Las Vegas. In January 1997, Doherty pled guilty to separate federal wire fraud charges as a result of allegations his scheme cheated other elderly victims in other states.

Doherty first went to prison on the Missouri charges, from May 1997 to January 1998. Then Doherty entered federal custody and has served approximately eight months in federal prison in Waseca, Minnesota. When he is released from federal custody September 3rd, he will be escorted in custody to Butler County to begin serving his maximum ten-year Iowa sentence. It is expected that Doherty will be transported from Butler County to the State classification facility at Oakdale, where he will be assessed and assigned to one of the Iowa prisons.

Attorney General Tom Miller said Iowa's aggressive criminal prosecution of fraudulent telemarketers has dramatically reduced the problem over the last five years.

"The crooks have learned the lesson that if they call Iowa they are likely to be caught and do time in prison," Miller said. "The word is out that we will not tolerate cheating elderly Iowans out of their savings."

Miller said authorities in another state investigating a suspect telemarketing operation, recently discovered a list of states to avoid. "Iowa was at the very top of the list," Miller said. "It said their callers should 'absolutely not' call Iowa. That's the kind of reputation we want to have among telemarketing thieves." Miller added that similar documents instructing telemarketers to avoid calling Iowans have been discovered in the past several years.

Since Iowa pioneered the undercover telephone "sting" operation five years ago, 37 persons have been charged with criminal violations, and 35 have been convicted of felonies; one person is a fugitive and another is awaiting trial. All but one of those convicted have served time in prison or jail.