Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Surprise: NYC 'Homeless' Group a Total Scam

How long until we find out this dubious crew has some links to ACORN? They're got a 501(C)(3) tax exemption and have been in operation since 1985 and just now people have figured out this is a scam?
Just in time for the holidays, state authorities are going for the jug-ular -- seeking to banish forever the panhandling pests who clog Manhattan's busiest corners with folding tables and plastic water bottles.

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed suit yesterday, charging the United Homeless Organization is a scam run by con artists who pocket most of the change they collect -- hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The beggars -- most of whom claim to be street people -- say that the money tossed into their jugs goes to the homeless. And it does, the suit says. They just don't bother to say they're talking about themselves.

UHO founder Stephen Riley and director Myra Walker take a big cut of the money to fund personal shopping sprees at the GameStop, Home Shopping Network, Bed Bath & Beyond and P.C. Richard, as well as their monthly cable bills, legal papers charge.

Riley, a beefy 60-year-old, shamelessly used the donated dollars -- which are supposed to be used to "feed the homeless" -- to pay his Weight Watchers bills.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, seeks a temporary injunction to shut down the UHO, then permanently disband it and keep Riley and Walker from ever taking part in charitable causes.

The organization, run out of Walker's Bronx apartment, did not return a call for comment.

The scam was strikingly simple, Cuomo said.

Riley, who founded the UHO in 1985 and got tax-exempt status for it eight years later, charges a flat-rate $15 to $25 to rent a table and empty water jug for a four-hour shift.

"In exchange for paying a fee to Riley, UHO workers received tables and UHO-branded materials, including a tablecloth, apron and plastic jug, and the right to claim membership in UHO," the suit charged.

They also get a copy of UHO's New York state incorporation receipt they can use to convince suspicious New Yorkers and trusting tourists that they're legit.

After deducting the "rent," the table worker keeps all the donations -- up to $80 a shift during peak season.

And with 50 tables around Manhattan -- each operating for two to three shifts seven days a week -- Riley and Walker could have collected well over $100,000 in fees a year, officials estimate.

"Riley and Walker treated the 'fees' as their personal kitty, dipping into them whenever they choose," the suit says.
One of their "managers" gives it all up.
"The money goes to the homeless," claimed Rodney Borders, a self-described UHO "manager" who said he's been panhandling with the group for 4½ years.

When pressed, Borders, who was collecting from commuters at Penn Station, admitted, "We don't own any shelters or soup kitchens. The money provides us with everyday money."
It's a good thing a Democrat like Cuomo is the one going after these thugs. Imagine how heartless and cruel a Republican would be portrayed as for going after the "homeless" this time of year?

Instapundit links. Thanks!

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