State News

Mar 21, 2014 2:37 PM

Attorney General Accuses Veterans' Charity of Deception

AUSTIN - The State of Texas is going after a group that claimed to raise funds for "local" veterans, but instead is accused of funneling the money out of state to the benefit of the the organizers.

Attorney General Greg Abbott's application for an injunction against the Veterans Support Organizations claims more than $2.5 million in donations were received from Texans thinking they were helping veterans in their communities.

The state claims the VSO asked for donations in Bell, Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Hays, Nueces and Travis counties. According to court documents, at least 70 percent of the money was diverted to Florida or Rhode Island.

The Attorney General's office also alleges members of the group were operating a housing program to help veterans, but only owned two homes in Austin and Dallas that consisted of rooms rented to people who could pay, whether or not they were veterans.

Damages are also be sought in the range of $100,000 to one million against the VSO and defendants Richard Vanhouten, Michelle Vanhouten, Steven Casella, and Robert Cruz.

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