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

For immediate release - Wednesday, May 11, 2005.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Court Refuses to Lift Injunction Against "American Deputy Sheriffs' Assn."

Judge also orders ADSA to tape-record all phone solicitations made to Iowans and make the tapes available to the Attorney General.

DES MOINES.   Polk County District Court Judge Douglas Staskal has denied a request made by the "American Deputy Sheriffs' Association," or ADSA, to dissolve a temporary injunction he issued in November that prohibits ADSA from making misrepresentations in its telephone solicitations. ADSA asks for donations supposedly to help Iowa law enforcement agencies.

Staskal ordered that the temporary injunction will remain in place while a State consumer fraud lawsuit moves forward. Staskal said telephone solicitors calling for ADSA "consistently" have made representations that "are false and misleading." Staskal said ADSA's solicitations had represented, either explicitly or implicitly, that the phone solicitor is a member of a law enforcement agency and is calling from the consumer's locality, and that donations would benefit the consumer's local law enforcement agency. [Click here for Staskal's Ruling and Order.]

The judge's order said "the Attorney General has proven by clear and convincing evidence" that ADSA "has engaged in practices that would be consumer frauds" under Iowa law.

Staskal also granted the State's motion to require ADSA to tape-record all phone call solicitations made to Iowans or made from Iowa, and to make the tapes available to the Attorney General's Office upon request. The consumer fraud lawsuit continues in litigation.

The overall lawsuit asks the Court ultimately to issue a permanent injunction, and to order the defendants to pay up to $40,000 for each violation of the Consumer Fraud Act and an additional $5,000 for each violation against older Iowans.

Background:

The Attorney General's lawsuit was filed November 10, 2004. [Click here for detailed information and a link to the lawsuit.] It alleges deceptive fund-raising practices by the "American Deputy Sheriffs' Association," a not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Louisiana that asks for donations supposedly to help Iowa law enforcement agencies with things like bullet-proof vests and benefits to families of officers killed in duty.

"Our suit alleges that ADSA uses deceptive phone solicitations to make Iowans believe that the caller actually is a local law enforcement person, and that donations are put to good use in the community of the Iowan being called," said Attorney General Tom Miller.

"The truth, we allege, is that the callers are paid professional fund-raisers, most likely in Wisconsin, making thousands of calls to Iowans who contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars believing their gifts will support law enforcement. And the truth is, less than one-half of one percent of Iowa donations have been used to support Iowa law enforcement," Miller said.

The suit alleges that the American Deputy Sheriffs' Association is known to have collected at least $987,586 from Iowans from 2001 through Sept. 2004 - but, the suit alleges, only about $3,900 has been committed in Iowa (for 15 bullet-proof vests), or under four-tenths of one percent.

Defendants named in the suit are ADSA, Inc., doing business as the American Deputy Sheriffs' Association, headquartered in Monroe, Louisiana; Michael Croft, past president of ADSA; Ashley Isaac, president of ADSA; Thomas Buchman, internal auditor of ADSA; EulaLee Warner, secretary-treasurer of ADSA; Public Awareness, Inc., a professional fund-raiser business that contracts with ADSA and is based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and Duane Kolve, president of Public Awareness, Inc.

"Telemarketers calling for ADSA stress several worthy purposes, but the money isn't delivered for them in Iowa," Miller said. "Contrary to the representations made to potential donors, we allege that no Iowa family has received a death benefit for an officer killed on duty, no Iowa student has received an ADSA scholarship, and no training events have been held in Iowa."

Tips for Consumers:

The Attorney General's Office issues periodic Consumer Advisory bulletins called "Donor Beware! How to Avoid Charity Fraud and Make the Most of Your Donations."

The advisory urges consumers to be especially wary of calls from supposed "law enforcement" or "firefighter" charities. Consumers are urged to contact their local sheriff, police or fire department to check out claims that a donation "will be used locally." Consumers should ask for information in writing before they agree to give. They should ask if the caller is a paid professional fund-raiser and ask how much of their gift will go to the charitable purpose and be used in their community.

The full "Donor Beware" Consumer Advisory bulletin is available at the web site: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org (click on protecting consumers, and consumer advisories.)

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