A Brooklyn-based nonprofit lied when it told potential donors that it maintained a bone marrow registry and sent children with leukemia to Disney World to fulfill their dying wishes, according to a lawsuit filed by the state attorney general’s office.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Monday that his office filed a petition to shut down the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation, a so-called charity Schneiderman says bilked donors nationwide out of $9.7 million and lied about its operations from 2009 to 2013.
“Nothing is more shameful than pocketing millions of dollars donated by good-hearted people who just wanted to help children afflicted with a terminal illness,” Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to identify, investigate, and shutter so-called charities that use legitimate-sounding names to exploit the generosity of New Yorkers and betray the public’s trust.”
Schneiderman’s petition alleges that the charity was run by a convicted felon, 64-year-old Zvi Shor, out of the basement of his Brooklyn home, and that less than 1 percent – just $57,541 – of the money he raised went to leukemia patients.
The attorney general claims that Shor raised the money with the help of professional fundraisers and then funneled the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation’s cut of the proceeds into a shell organization run by his sister in Israel. During that period he collected himself $1.2 million in salary.
The petition claims that while collecting the money, Shor told donors his charity maintained a bone marrow registry, an umbilical cord blood banking program, a cancer research center and that he was filing a patent application for a leukemia treatment. He also allegedly told benefactors their donations would be used to “fulfill the wishes of terminally sick children.”
All of these claims, Schneiderman’s petition alleges, were lies.
Shor’s attorney, Douglas Gross, told the New York Times that his client denied wrongdoing.
“We do not believe that any of the attorney general’s allegations have any substance,” Mr. Gross said. “Mr. Shor began this charity and ran it with the best of intentions.”