O.C. charity settles suit over costly trips
An Orange County charity agreed Tuesday to pay the state $100,000 to settle allegations that it spent thousands of dollars in donations intended for burn victims on expensive trips for its officers.
The Assn. for Firefighters and Paramedics Inc. in Santa Ana “betrayed the trust of donors by squandering donations on such things as an expensive Caribbean cruise and trips to posh resorts,” Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said in a statement.
The attorney general’s office alleged in a lawsuit filed last year that from 2005 to 2008 the group’s board members spent $33,000 in donor funds on trips to resorts in San Diego and Las Vegas as well as on a Caribbean cruise for the board and their families before a meeting in Florida.
The association told donors through telemarketers and on its website that donations would be used to help pay for the care of burn victims “within a reasonable radius of your area so that the impact of your donation can be felt close to home,” the complaint said.
But while funds were collected nationwide, they were allegedly spent on burn victims only in Southern California and none of the donations were used to support fire departments or paramedics, the suit said.
The association denied any wrongdoing but agreed to let the attorney general’s office have oversight of its finances for three years, according to the settlement. The association could not be reached for comment.