Drunks, Thieves, & Illegal Corporations? Shriners: Part 17
Mon Jul 9, 2007
news, california, theft, irs, shriners, illegal-corporationsSandy FrostEditor's Note: The words used in this headline aren't mine. They were printed in online news outlets and spoken by numerous government officials. Also, there are updates to "Mortgage Madness? Shriners: Part 16" at the end of this article.
I read the news today, oh boy.
It was pretty frigging bad.
And it's about to get worse.
Headlines from the past two weeks read:
* Drunk driving Shriners injure 12 in Fourth of July parade rampage
* Man Admits to Stealing $60,000 From Osiris Shriners
The Drunk Shriner story can be found here:
It's probably just a parody that makes fun of the Shriners.
The Shriner theft story was published June 26, 2007 in the Wheeling News-Register and begins:
"WHEELING A 70-year-old Wheeling man admitted Monday that he unlawfully obtained about $60,000 from the Osiris Shrine and the International Order of Odd Fellows, Wheeling.
James Kenneth White pleaded guilty to a charge of obtaining money by fraudulent pretenses.
Assistant Prosecutor David Cross told the court White, while in a position to have access to organization checking accounts, stole $31,670.92 from the Osiris Shrine between Jan. 2, 2001, and May 30, 2006."
Past headlines of real news stories have read:
"Shriners go wild - A group of fez-heads gets in trouble for carousing with hookers at a fundraising event in Winnipeg"
"Shriners disbanded after reports of sex acts at dinner"
The story is here http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2001/01/30/shriners_010130.html and reports that:
"A group of Shriners in Winnipeg has been disbanded following complaints about lewd sexual behavior at a fund-raising dinner last week. Witnesses say the event featured nude lap dancers and sex acts."
An October 25, 2002 Associated Press story reported that:
"The former executive director of the Osman Temple Shrine Circus in Minnesota was found guilty of embezzling more than $300,000 from the organization. A jury found Robert L. Janecek guilty on 21 counts of mail fraud, four counts of tax evasion, three counts of failure to file tax returns, and one count of filing a false tax return."
And to make things worse, it appears that the Shriners' convention, which was just held in Anaheim, California, may have been operated illegally. Because of this, the Shriners may come under microscope of the California Secretary of State, the California Attorney General, the California Franchise Tax Board, the District Attorney for Orange County and the IRS.
According to a report from the California Secretary of State's (SOS) online data base, the status of the Imperial Council Session of 2007, Inc., the "for profit" group that ran the convention, is "suspended."
Officials from the SOS office in San Francisco explained that:
"The Imperial Council Session of 2007, Inc. did not file a statement of information" and as of 12/21/06, "cannot legally operate as a California corporation."
Officials from the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) confirmed that the "Imperial Council Session of 2007, Inc." filed as a "for profit" corporation and was suspended from conducting business of any sort in California.
"Suspension means that they lost their right to do business in California," one FTB official said. "This means that all contracts are voidable. The members could have attended for free because the suspended business had no right to ask for any money. Additionally, they have lost the right to their name and are liable for taxes on all income."
"This is very serious," said another FTB official. "This means that they didn't file their statement of information for at least two years, even though notices were sent out to the address reported on their records." The "Agent for the Service of Process" is listed as Robert F. Schauer whose recorded address is the same as a Robert F. Schauer who is listed as a member of the California Bar Association.
California Code states that if a corporation neglects, fails or refuses to prepare and submit the required financial statements, they are subjected to penalties. After the corporation fails to file the required statement, the SOS mails a notice of that delinquency to the corporation. If there is no response within 60 days after the mailing of the notice of delinquency, the SOS then certifies the name of the corporation to the Franchise Tax Board.
Officials at the IRS Exempt Organization section stated that "It is illegal for 'non-profit' and 'for profit' businesses to operate together. They just don't go together. It's against the law." Additionally, a third request for the tax returns of the "Imperial Council Session" of 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003 was recently emailed to Shriner Director of Corporate Communications, Alicia Aargiz-Lyons, as the first request for these returns was sent a year ago and remains unanswered. The IRS has ruled that such requests must be answered in 30 days.
"The decision to investigate and/or pursue a case against the suspended corporation is usually made by the local DA," the FTB official concluded.
The California Code states that in this case, either California's Attorney General or the Orange County District Attorney can bring an action to enforce penalties in the name of the people of the State of California.
Section 2207 of the California Code (a) states that:
"A corporation is liable for a civil penalty in an amount not exceeding one million dollars ($1,000,000) if the corporation's officers, directors, managers or agents misstates or conceals or has misstated or concealed from a regulatory body a material fact in order to deceive a regulatory body to avoid a statutory or regulatory duty, or to avoid a statutory or regulatory limit or prohibition."
Past articles in this series have alleged that certain "material facts" may have been "concealed" from or "misstated" on the Shriners' tax returns, to include the Shriners Hospitals for Children as well as temples and clubs that operate under the temples. In fact, the IRS and Senate Finance Committee recently announced that, for the first time in 25 years, reforms will be made to the exempt organization tax returns or 990s in order to better enforce non profit transparency, disclosure and accountability.
Some of these reforms coincide with possible "concealed" information that should have been reported on the Shriners' 990s including:
Charitable donations being used for multiple personal mortgages for Shiners' top leaders and employees
Accounts receivable, i.e. mortgage payments, from officers and employees of both the charitable and fraternal corporations
Changes to bylaws
Charitable donations being used to settle malpractice, sexual harassment, and discrimination lawsuits as well as liens, with one amounting to $1,156,026.53, against the Shriners
Related organizations to include the Masons, Knights Templar, Jesters, etc.
Lobbyists hired to work against the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 written to tighten up corporate accountability
Conflicts of Interest
Shrine leaders forming their own "for profit "corporations, with a past comptroller using the Shriner's address as his place of business
"Executive compensation" paid to Shrine officers and directors consistently reported as "0"on most Shriner tax returns.
The following New York Times front page story, published on March 19, 2007, describes:
"More than 57 percent of the $32 million the Shriners raised in 2005 through circuses, bingo games, raffles and a variety of sales went to costs of the fraternity, including keeping temple liquor cabinets full and offering expenses-paid trips to Shrine meetings and other events."
The article continues:
"Shortly after becoming Cahaba's potentate in 2003, Mr. Ballard drove to Decatur, Ala., to oversee the installation of new officers at one of the temple's affiliated clubs, the Decatur Shrine Club, which was known for a high-grossing bingo game every Tuesday night. As Mr. Ballard was leaving, a club member handed him an envelope, which he tucked into his blazer pocket, assuming it was a check. Instead, Mr. Ballard said, 'It was $1,000 in cash.' It is customary for a temple's affiliated clubs to contribute to the potentate to help defray his costs during his year in office. What concerned Mr. Ballard was that the gift was made to him directly, not through the temple, and in cash. 'It scared me to death because I could have gone out and bought myself a new set of tires with that money and no one would have ever known,' he said."
This article can be found at:
Royal Order of Jesters
A quick word about the super secret Shrine group, the Royal Order of Jesters. The Jesters are made up of top level Shrine leaders who join by invitation only. The International Royal Order of Jesters, Inc., filed a 501c3 charity return in 2005 that claims they were "Extending Assistance and Good Cheer to Others. Providing a Museum for Items and Articles of Mirth, Comedy and Laughter."
A 501c3 charity cannot be a secret society whose members join by invitation only, as this constitutes discrimination. The company who built the Jesters new building describes it as an "office building" instead of a "museum."
The company's website is here:
Building photos are here:
The National Court of the Royal Order of Jesters filed a 501c10 fraternal return in 2005. Both returns fail to list report executive compensation under the "Statement of Functional Expenses," though the fraternal return lists "Directors Expense" under the "Other Expenses" category as $31,865. Both returns were signed by Alex Rogers, who is listed as the person who keeps the books for both tax exempt groups. He is also listed on the 501c3 charity return as "Executive Director."
If you go here to http://freemasonrywatch.org/royalorderofjesters.html , you will find a statement about the Jesters, an email from one "Sam Houston," the contents of which have been confirmed by known Jesters and a letter from a director of the Jesters stating:
"The purpose of this letter is to inform you that at a recent Board of Directors meeting of the Royal Order of Jesters, a resolution was passed which directed the abolition of all Jester-related bulletin boards and internet sites. The primary reason behind such action was the desire of the Board to minimize to the extent possible our public exposure or its access to Jester information."
Many on the Imperial Divan are Jesters. The information can be found here:
If you go here, http://www.taxexemptworld.com/ and click on "Search by Name" and type in "Order of Jesters," you will find 19 pages of Jesters' groups, contact names and locations.
Numbers reported on the Shriners' corporate tax returns, as well as those on the Dorchester Shrine Club's financial statements (See "Mortgage Madness? Shriners: Part 16"), seem to be "misstated" and either need more explanation or investigation as they seem to be out of whack and don't seem to support the groups' stated exempt purpose.
For example, the Shriners Hospitals for Children 2005 tax return reports that:
$10,535,020 was spent on "Miscellaneous," at a rate of $28,863 a day
$12,545,873 was spent on "Utilities," at a rate of $34,372 a day
$59,589,434 was spent on "Supplies," at a rate of $163,258 a day
$41,643,512 was spent on "Outside services, at a rate of $114,091 a day
Were any of these outside services provided by Shriner owned businesses?
Part VII of the Shriners Hospitals for Children 2005 tax return asks for the "Relationship of Activities to the Accomplishment of Exempt Purposes." The Shriners report their exempt purpose as:
"To Assess Fraternal Members in Order to Offset Hospital Costs."
The "Analysis of Income Producing Activities" totals $406,039,618, with the fraternal members contributing $2,028,165.
The fraternal member's contribution amounts to 0.5% or one half of one percent of the income that is supposed to justify the Shriner's exempt purpose.
"Mortgage Madness? Shriners Part 16" can be found here:
It describes how the Dorchester Shrine Club was blindsided and overtaken by the Omar temple last September. The potentate removed all the officers, suspended the club's bylaws and took over the club's finances because:
The club's leaders had been warned "over and over about the breeding ground of drugs, excessive drinking, fights and the language"
The club's leaders had "totally disregarded Shrine Law"
The club's officers had "totally disregarded the Potentates directives"
The temple had "received letter after letter and phone call after phone call after phone call complaining of the immoral conduct" at the Dorchester Shrine Club
The club's officers allegedly refinanced the mortgage numerous times without permission
The club's officers were allegedly delinquent in their mortgage payments
A letter from the ousted club president claimed that he was not given a chance to review the complaints. Other club officers confirmed that the mortgage had been paid on time and had not been refinanced.
After the seizure, the club was ordered to pay off their mortgage in one year.
The tax exempt purpose of the Omar Temple, who now controls the Dorchester Shrine Club, is described as:
"Fundraising events for the support of the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled and Burned Children."
The May, 2007 Dorchester Shrine Club financial statement reports that:
In the month of May, $4,075 was spent on the mortgage and $48 was spent on the hospital.
In other words, $131.45 was spent per day on the mortgage and $00.01.5 (one and one half cents) was spent on the hospital or one and one half cents was spent a day to support the temple's exempt purpose while $131.45 was spent a day on the mortgage.
The annual totals for 2007 are $13,606.31 spent on the mortgage and $465.75 spent on the hospitals.
In other words, $273.72 was spent per day for the mortgage and $00.01.9 (One and nine tenths cents) was spent on the hospitals to support the temple's exempt purpose.
Additionally, the latest Dorchester Shrine Club newsletter, the Infomar, asked for volunteers to help with a golf tournament, the proceeds of which are earmarked to pay off the mortgage. A letter from Noble Julian Seal, DSC Appointed Board of Advisors, Chairman, states that "Please think about some of this and help (the Dorchester Club Annual Golf Classic) so that we can pay off the debt of the club in 2007." The flyer states that "Proceeds Support Shrine Activities," which may be misleading because Shrine fundraising directives order that fraternal fundraising materials must state: "Proceeds are for the benefit of Dorchester Shrine Club activities."
The same newsletter may provide the answer as to why the Omar Temple overtook the Dorchester Shrine Club last year.
"Greetings from the President," by appointed DSC president, Bill Ackerman, states:
"One quick announcement; the Omar Director's Staff is looking for a new home. We are working with them to see if we can accommodate them. It looks very promising. Please make them feel welcome and answer their questions if asked. It is requested that these discussions not dwell on past negative aspects of our club's history but rather, build on the positive emergence of our club into a successful, functioning, philanthropy that will come closer to meeting its duties and responsibilities to Shrindom. If they decide to accept our requirements then it will be as regular DSC members with the same rights and privileges of any other member."
When the Director's Staff moves from the Omar Temple to the Dorchester Shrine Club's 75 acre site, they will add an extra 25 voting members to the Dorchester Shrine Club. Once the club is allowed to vote again, the Director's staff will be the majority vote.
Additionally, a "gag order" of sorts was issued by Ackerman in regard to the Director's Staff move to the Dorchester Shrine Club. It reads:
"During this time, it is requested that if you have concerns or want to make your personal feelings known, please express them to your governing body in private. Your questions and concerns will be handled in a very businesslike manner with honest and sincere responses whenever possible. There may be short periods of time when it may be difficult to us to give you an immediate response. We will answer you as soon as we know the answer and can publicize it. Please don't feed or get caught up in the 'rumor mill.' Please don't ask your governing members or any other member to conduct sensitive club business of any kind in the public forums of our club. The place for these discussions is in a sober, business environment out of the public eye. It will take several months to finalize the partnership. We want to make sure that this partnership is beneficial for all involved."
So, who is harmed by all of this?
The children. Twenty years ago, the Orlando Sentinel described how the children were being used for fundraising that was shortchanged by alleged circus ticket theft. Complaints were made to two law enforcement officers who failed to report the crimes. They were Shriners. How many more children could be helped if these groups' expenses supported their exempt purposes?
The Donors. They trust that their tax deductible contributions, trust funds, estates and bequests are going to help the children. What would they do if they knew that their donations were being spent on mortgages, lawsuits, lavish ceremonies, liens, unreported lobbyists, unreported expense accounts, and supplies at a rate of $163,258 a day?
Other charity groups. They want to tell others about their good works as they uphold the highest standards of non profit transparency, disclosure and accountability. Instead, the public's trust in these groups is shaken as the headlines describe fraud, sex-scandals, drunkenness and corruption associated with groups such as the United Way, the Red Cross, the Smithsonian and, now, the Shriners.
The tax payers. It is the taxpayers who must make up for what the tax exempt groups do not pay. For example, both Shrine fraternal and charitable share the same headquarters in Tampa, Florida where the Hillsborough County property tax assessment is over $450,000. Since both groups are classified as tax-exempt, they don't pay any property tax.
The United State Department of Revenue and the IRS exempt organization section. These agencies rely on accurate information to justify the conditional tax exempt status enjoyed by groups like the Shriners. An April 5, 2005 Chronicle of Philanthropy article, "Nonprofit Abuses Cost Federal Government Billions of Dollars, IRS Chief Tells Senators" states:
"'Abuses by nonprofit groups and donors are costing the federal government about $15-billion a year in lost revenue,' Internal Revenue Service commissioner Mark W. Everson told a Senate committee today."
The members. The average Shriner has no idea about any of this as they continue to faithfully drive patients and their parents to any of the 22 Shriner Hospitals for Children so they can get medical care at no cost. Or get up early on a Saturday to set up for a pancake breakfast. Or dress up like a clown to visit the sick and crippled children and put a smile on their faces.
The whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation by a portion of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Unfortunately, these Shriners have been sued, suspended, intimidated and censored for asking financial questions that the Shrine leadership, from the bottom all the way to the top, refuses to answer.
Maybe those in the offices of the California Attorney General, California Franchise Tax Board, the Orange County District Attorney, California Secretary of State and the IRS are the only ones who can get answers to those financial questions that remain unanswered.
If they don't, who will?
All copies of material reprinted or duplicated from by Sandy Frost must include the following credit line: From http://sandyfrost.newsvine.com/ Copyright © 2007 by Sandy Frost. Used by permission.
The mortgage is paid from public rentals of the building, not contributions. Money for the hospital comes from fund raising events. If the members don't support them, then no money is raised for the hospital. And yes, we do have events that state proceeds go to the mortgage, but if you only make a profit of 14.00 then that's all there is.