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The state of New Jersey has sued two men for allegedly operating a bogus 9/11 charity in which they solicited donations for the families of the terrorist attack's victims, and then pocketed the money.
A lawsuit filed by the Attorney General says 66-year-old Mark Niemczyk of Tinton Falls and 40-year-old Thomas Scalgione of Manahawkin failed to register the charity, as required by state law.
The pair drove around the Garden State in a pickup truck decorated with the names of first responders killed on 9/11. Niemczyk even falsely claimed to be a former Navy SEAL while asking for donations, the lawsuit claims. A license plate on his truck read "N-SEAL."
"The alleged actions of the defendants is an affront to everyone who remembers the fallen and to the family members who continue to endure pain from the lives that were lost among the first responders at the World Trade Center,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a statement. “It is beyond comprehension that anyone would try to profit themselves under the guise of collecting donations to help the surviving family members of the fallen emergency responders.”
According to the AG's press release:
Both defendants allegedly sold tee shirts bearing the logos of the New York City Police Department, New York City Fire Department and Port Authority Police Department to the public at 9-11 memorial events from mid-2011 to date, purportedly to raise funds for their charity. They were not authorized to use the logos. They allegedly also had a collection jug for cash donations when they attended events with the truck.
NBC 4 New York unknowingly interviewed Niemczyk at his apartment in Tinton Falls. Niemczyk referred to himself in the third person, saying "Whatever money I know he collects goes out."
Both Niemczyk and Scalgione have criminal records. Niemczyk plead guilty to welfare fraud in 1989. Scalgione has been convicted of theft and forgery, among other crimes.
An actual ex-Navy SEAL, Don Shipley, revealed the duo's bogus operation in a YouTube video posted last year.
The AG has asked that the men's truck be impounded and that the court order them to stop soliciting donations.