Veterans Charity Scamming Donors, Attorney General Says

Dec 3, 2007 10:28am

A man attempted to scam generous Americans by falsely claiming he was running a "rural retreat for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder" in Missouri, the state attorney general says. The retreat does not exist. After a settlement conference earlier this month, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon has decided to sue James Barbee in civil court under the state’s consumer protection laws in February for allegedly defrauding donors. Nixon obtained a temporary restraining order against Barbee in September to prevent further solicitation. Nixon said Barbee solicited donations for the Missouri-based Liberty Spirits Farm beginning last April on his Web site, libertyspiritsfarm.org. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Blotter Failing to Serve America’s Heroes on the Home Front Blotter Charities Respond to ABC News Report Good Morning America Video Veterans Charities Fail to Make the Grade Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage Barbee, who lives in California, never owned the property advertised on the Web site as Liberty Spirits Farm, but continued to ask for money to cover the farm’s operational cost, according to Nixon. "James Barbee has played on [Americans'] goodwill to solicit donations he claims would go for a veterans’ facility in Missouri that is not in operation, on property he doesn’t own," said Nixon. Barbee posted pictures on his Web site that he had taken off the owner’s Web site when the owner was trying to sell the property, according to Nixon’s office. Barbee’s attorney Melissa Featherston said Barbee wanted to buy the property, and though mistakes were made, he was acting in good faith and trying to do something good for veterans. One of Nixon’s investigators sent a $100 check to Barbee as an anonymous donation. Barbee cashed the check, according to Nixon’s office. Under Missouri law, any solicitation must be registered with the state. Nixon’s office alerted Barbee to that fact, but Barbee never registered. Featherston said Barbee received no other donations but the $100 from Nixon. "If it had not been for that $100 check [Barbee] cashed, he would not be spending his resources on litigation, instead it would go to helping veterans," she said. Barbee’s Web site also solicited cash for another project, Liberty Spirits Ranch, for "wounded and combat affected military personnel returning from battle." This retreat was to be located on the central coast of California, according to the Liberty Spirits Farm Web site. Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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