Connecticut Attorney General Investigating Leukemia-Related Charities

TK

Dr. Tedd Collins has been the public face of an international campaign to help a Yale University hockey player suffering from leukemia to obtain a potentially life-saving transplant.

"It gets me out of bed. ... Honestly, this is very, very important to me," Collins said of his efforts to help Mandi Schwartz, in a recent interview on ABC News.

"It's as important as anything I've ever done. It really is," he said.

But now those efforts are under investigation by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. It's part of a growing pile of legal woes confronting the 53-year-old immunologist.

Late Friday, Blumenthal sent Collins letters asking for the fundraising records of two charities the doctor established to help Schwartz and others like her.

Blumenthal also directed the charities -- Become My Hero and Natasha's Place -- to cease all fundraising until they register with the state, saying it was "illegal to solicit charitable funds in Connecticut until the organizations have made the appropriate filings required under the law."

"We will investigate to confirm that funds donated to these organizations, promising to serve a significant charitable purpose, have been used appropriately," Blumenthal said in a statement.

The attorney general acted after The New York Times disclosed a trail of lawsuits and fraud accusations against Collins from people across the U.S. who claimed the doctor had duped them out of large amounts of money in investment ventures well before he created the Become My Hero and Natasha's Place charities.

In an e-mail to ABC News, Collins wrote that he had a "legal team looking over" how Become My Hero and Natasha's Place were set up. He added that his lawyers would "be able to provide a full accounting of the money and tell how things will be handled moving forward."

"I can accept that my past may hurt the image of our accomplishments. I just want to have an opportunity to make sure that the things I've created to save lives will not be injured because people doubt my ability to handle money. What is created is far bigger than me," he added.

He did not respond to additional requests for comment.

Mandi Schwartz's Family Had Suggested People Could Help Mandi Through Tedd Collins' Charities

Mandi Schwartz was first diagnosed with leukemia in December 2008. A successful stem-cell transplant now represents her last best hope to survive.

Teammates and friends have mounted a tireless effort across the Yale community, the hockey world and beyond to find donors of bone marrow and umbilical-cord blood in hopes of finding a perfect match. It's a search complicated by Mandi's mixed Russian, Ukrainian and German heritage, which was chronicled by ABC News, ESPN, The New York Times and other media outlets.

In an interview in June, Collins said he became involved at the urging of his daughter Natasha, a promising medical student at Yale, as she was dying of leukemia last summer.

"She just looked at me and said, 'One day, dad, maybe you can't help me, but hopefully you can help other people,'" Collins said in the interview on ABC News. "And she told me about Mandi."

He added, "She's just like my daughter. It's really that simple. ... I don't know, God is really an amazing God. I'm certain that he put her here for a reason, and I have to think my daughter died for a reason to get through the day. So, maybe this is it."

And so Collins created Become My Hero, which helps patients find cord-blood donors, and Natasha's Place, which promotes awareness of how cord-blood donation can help people of mixed heritage, a group for whom bone-marrow matches are hard to find.

Yale officials and members of the Schwartz family had suggested that people could help Mandi through Collins' charities. At the time they had no idea of his tangled financial past -- dealings first disclosed by the New York Times four days ago.

The Times reported that some of the allegations were so serious, they were being investigated by the Secret Service and Internal Revenue Service. A Secret Service official in Kentucky confirmed to ABC News that Collins was the subject of a fraud investigation there.

Tedd Collins and His Charities Removed From Yale Websites

Yale this week distanced itself from Collins, removing references to the doctor and scrubbing any mention of his charities from stories on its Web site chronicling the fight to help Mandi Schwartz.

Members of Mandi's family said they received no money from Collins' charities. For them, this has been an unwanted distraction. They are focused on Mandi. The 22-year-old traveled to Seattle last week in preparation for a cord-blood transplant, which is now scheduled for Aug. 26.

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