Many question where donations to Operation Show You Care are going
When you're making a donation to a nonprofit every dollar counts. You feel like you're doing a good thing, for a good cause. But what if that cause is called into question?Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - When you're making a donation to a nonprofit every dollar counts. You feel like you're doing a good thing, for a good cause. But what if that cause is called into question?
In September, you asked us to investigate an organization that says it's soliciting money for the military. Now Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has uncovered more about Operation Show You Care.
Before bakery owner Gerard Fabiani began whipping up his french specialties in Las Vegas, he was a member of the French military. So he has a special place in his heart for those serving their country.
"I'm always willing to help," said Gerard.
That's what made him an easy mark for Operation Show You Care. They first contacted Gerard in the spring. He got a cold call at work from a man who said his name was Mike.
"Presenting himself as a nonprofit organization, was looking to help soldiers overseas. They were telling me they would prepare packages that would be sent to the soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Gerard.
Gerard didn't have to think twice about the cause. He generously donated $300 to Operation Show You Care. He says the very next day two people from the organization came to his bakery to collect.
"The people who came to pick up the check didn't look right, it was not professional, but I didn't make a big deal of it," said Gerard.
They gave Gerard a brochure and a tax receipt. But weeks later, his phone rang again.
"The same person presenting himself as a different person with a different name from the same phone number asked me again for a donation for a different event," said Gerard.
That's when Gerard knew something wasn't right.
"I don't know how long they've been doing this," said Gerard.
Gerard thinks they should be held accountable for their actions.
In Touch Insurance thinks so too. The local business near Buffalo and Vegas also got a call from Operation Show You Care asking for donations. They gave $50 this spring and got the same tax receipt.
But there's a big problems with the receipts. According to the IRS, Operation Show You Care isn't recognized as a non - profit. The tax ID they give is bogus, it's one digit too many. Non - profit tax ID's are 9 digits, not 10.
"What do you think about the fact that if the guys aren't on the up and up,t hat they're using our military to get donations out of people that may not be going anywhere but into their own pockets," asked Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"I just think this is terrible," said Gerard.
Gerard can only wonder where his donation went much like business owner Debbie Resly. She bought a booth in June for troopfest, a military concert that Operation Show You Care said it was planning to honor the troops.
"When I heard about this knowing that they're going to salute 500 troops coming home the flyover from Nellis. I just felt compelled," said Debbie.
Operation Show You Care took her money, but troopfest never happened. The folks from Operation Show You Care still have money from Debbie and several other vendors.
Action News sat down with Operation Show You Care founders Greg and Jodie Goodnight for our first story in September. Back then, Greg promised, "I'm gonna get her paid next week."
A month later, Debbie is still waiting to get her $350 back. We found donations of another kind were coming into Operation Show You Care. Action News discovered this donation box inside the Omelet House on Boulder Highway near Russell. The manager told us over the summer, someone came by weekly to empty out that loose change.
There was another donation box inside this Denny's on Warm Springs near Stephanie. But after seeing our stories, the manager took it off the counter fearing her patrons were getting scammed. We tried to get to the bottom of where the donations are going.
"Can you tell me why you were soliciting money for this organization," asked Chief Investigator Darcy Spears during a phone call to Mike Scott. His name is on the tax receipt Gerard and other businesses got.
"Why don't you want to answer any questions," asked Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
Scott hung up on us.
"Hey Greg it's Darcy Spears at Channel 13," said Chief Investigator Darcy Spears, but that call didn't last long.
"Ok who is your attorney, I'm sorry what's the person''s name. Hello? Ok, that was that.
He told us to call his attorney but never gave us a name. He sent an email saying that he doesn't want anyone from Action News to contact him again. We even went by their new office located just a quick walk away from their old one on Sahara near Maryland.
The office was dark and no one was there. Many still wonder if troopfest will ever take place but back in that September interview Greg assured us it will.
"If I have to I'll take it to California," explained Greg in a September 5th interview.
If that happens, it probably won't be in Riverside, California. Action News uncovered an active arrest warrant there for Greg Goodnight. Court records show Goodnight took a car without consent back in August 2004. A warrant was issued in August 2007. Riverside Police Department tells us their officers are now working with Metro Police to track him down.
The IRS' criminal investigation division is looking into the questions raised by that tax ID number. They, too, are now looking into Operation Show You Care. Many of the businesses we've talked to are now filing complaints with the Attorney General's office and Metro. We'll keep in touch with police to see if they ever track Goodnight down.