Friday, April 16, 1993

Troopers Association Donation Withdrawn
By Maryclaire Dale



A Hurricane businessman canceled plans to donate $40 to a troopers group alter learning they are based in Florida, not, as the telephone caller said, In West Virginia.

"I specifically asked him, 'Is this for the national trade association? Because If It I,, I don't want anything to do with It.' He said, 'Yes, It's for West Virginia only,'" said Dorsel Cobb, a manager at Disposal Service Inc., a Hurricane landfill.

The group, the American Association of State Troopers, came under attack Wednesday when a telephone solicitor used the name of slain Trooper Larry Hacker In a fund-raising p itch Tuesday. Hacker, 34, of Harrisville, was buried only the day before.

Cobb said he would buy a $40 journal advertisement, but changed his mind alter reading an article about that call and learning the group was based in Florida.

The group's executive director reported collecting almost $500,000 in donations In West Virginia in 1992 and distributing $20,000 In benefits to its 241 state members, for a return of 4 percent.

Meanwhile, the state attorney general's office pulled the group's file from the Secretary of State's office Thursday and began to Investigate. Assistant Attorney General Jim Carbone said he will press charges if he finds the group is misleading the public in its fund-raising calls.

Under the Reasonable Donor Expectation Act, a state can prosecute a charity that does not spend a reasonable portion of its donations on Its stated cause.

The American Association's pitches say Its donations pay for life insurance, pensions and scholarships for troopers, but in 1991, more than 90 percent of the donations nationwide helped pay for professional fund-raisers the cost of the 12 person Florida staff, and travel and meeting expenses for state directors.

Cobb got a call from the same group last year and sent a check, only to get a call from a second group, the In-state West Virginia Troopers Association, the next week. When he realized the mistake, he stopped payment on the check.

"I asked question after question to make sure specifically that it was the West Virginia state troopers so I wouldn't get hooked up with the same ring. And damned if I didn't anyway," he said.

Roy Hutto, executive director of the national association, apologized for the use of Hacker's name and said the telephone caller would be fired. He said the caller acted on his own accord.