By Pete O’Cain / The Wenatchee World
LEAVENWORTH — The state Attorney General’s Office is suing a Leavenworth man and his family it says kept most of $1.5 million donated by Washingtonians giving money to help disadvantaged children.
A civil lawsuit filed Dec. 21 in King County Superior Court alleges that Roy Haueter, his wife Billee Kae Haueter and several of their children operated four charities and a commercial fundraiser that continually violated the state Charitable Solicitations Act and Consumer Protection Act, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.
The AG’s Office believes that since 2012 the Haueters gave very little of the donations to charities — a small number of gift cards to a few nonprofits — and used most of the money to pay themselves and go on family vacations.
“The Haueter family used their so-called charities to take advantage of thousands of Washingtonians wanting to make a difference in a child’s life,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson in the report. “They abused their charity status for their personal gain. That’s wrong, and we will hold them accountable.”
Roy Haueter declined to comment Tuesday but agreed to an interview this week.
Charities run by the Haueter family, according to documents filed in King County Superior Court, include:
• Children’s Safety Bureau (also known as Needy Children’s Shopping Spree)
• Search and Rescue Charities (also known as Holiday Relief Fund)
• Emergency Relief Services (also known as Back to School Helping Hands)
• Children’s Hunger Relief Aid (also known as Cancer Exam Network and Children’s Hospital Emergency Fund)
In May 2016, some North Central Washington residents received mailers from the so-called Children’s Hospital Emergency Fund. The mailings asked for donations to an “emergency fund” to benefit the families of Seattle Children’s Hospital patients.
A Seattle Children’s Hospital official, Susan Blake, said in May that the hospital had no connection to the supposed charity and would report the effort to the Attorney General.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks $2,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act.
It’s unclear how many violations the Haueters are accused of. Ferguson also asks to the court to require the Haueters gives monies received from donations to “legitimate charities.”
The Haueters’ for-profit business, Haueter Enterprises, operated as a commercial fundraiser for the four charities, the news release states, though it never registered itself as one with the state Secretary of State’s Office.
The Charitable Solicitations Act requires commercial fundraisers to do so.