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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison bans group from seeking donations in state

Minneapolis Star Tribune logo Minneapolis Star Tribune 9/16/2020 By Kelly Smith, Star Tribune
Keith Ellison wearing a suit and tie: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. © Star Tribune/Star Tribune/Leila Navidi/Star Tribune/TNS Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

The state of Minnesota is banning an organization from soliciting donations that scammed residents into thinking they were donating to support people in need.

A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New York by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the FTC and attorney generals in New York, Virginia and New Jersey alleges that Outreach Calling, Inc. and multiple companies all under the control of owner Mark Gelvan, along with Thomas Berkenbush, William English, and Damian Muziani, operated as sham charities.

Instead of helping homeless veterans, retired and disabled law enforcement officers, breast cancer survivors and others in need, 90% of donations went to the defendants, according to the complaint. The four men will be required to surrender more than $847,000 to go to legitimate charities.

The defendants operated another company called Community Support, Inc., that also was banned from operating in Minnesota in 2009, according to the state.

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