A civil lawsuit filed against a Nassau County, Fla. man for unlawfully soliciting relief donations intended for Hurricane Katrina victims has been successfully concluded by Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist.
Robert Moneyhan must pay $10,000 for the state’s costs of investigation and is subject to a $20,000 penalty if he violates the terms of the injunction. Moneyhan had reportedly used Katrina-related Web sites to solicit donations in the aftermath of the storm, but a judgment signed by Nassau County Circuit Judge Brian Davis permanently prevents him from using the Web sites to solicit funds in the future.
As Hurricane Katrina gathered strength in the Gulf of Mexico after passing through southern Florida, Moneyhan registered domain names for Web sites with charitable sounding names. He created katrinahelp.com, katrinadonations.com, katrinarelief.com, katrinarelieffund.com and katrinacleanup.com, but did not file registration documents with the State to solicit donations, as required by law.
Crist sued Moneyhan in September, alleging that he failed to register prior to soliciting donations and that the Web sites misrepresented that “100 percent of all donations (would be) used for relief” of storm victims. Through quick actions taken by the Attorney General’s Office and internet payment service Paypal, Moneyhan did not benefit financially from the Web sites.
“I am pleased we were able to resolve this matter quickly and without any Floridians losing money while attempting to do a good deed,” Crist said. “In the wake of disasters like the ones we have seen over the past two years, we must take extra precautions to protect our citizens from any fraudulent practices.”
After the lawsuit was filed, Moneyhan donated the Web site names for a noncommercial use. He cooperated fully with the Attorney General’s Office and agreed to the consent judgment and permanent injunction, which bars him from soliciting donations without first complying with the Solicitation of Contributions Act and applicable law.
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