Coin-can conflicts in New Jersey: who is collecting all that spare change?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2003:
TRENTON, New Jersey– The Associated Humane Societies of New
Jersey in early February 2003 updated a “phony organizations” alert
originally issued in September 2002 about coin-can fund-raising by an
entity calling itself “The National Animal Welfare Foundation.”
The alert was soon amplified with more information by other
animal welfare organizations in the Hudson River region.
A “National Animal Welfare Foundation” was incorporated as an
IRS 501(c)(3) charity in 1998 by Patrick G. Jemas and Gus C. Jemas of
Metchuchen, New Jersey, and William E. Helwig of Holmdel, New
Jersey. The one IRS Form 990 it filed, in January 1999, was mostly
blank, with the identification data supplied in hard-to-read Old
English or German “black letter” type.
Investigations by Associated Humane assistant director Rosann
Trezza, Sara Whelan of Pets Alive in Middletown, New York, and
ANIMAL PEOPLE have found little trace of NAWF program activity. A
NAWF web site active on February 18, 2002 could no longer be found
on February 18, 2003. Addresses in Union, New Jersey, and
Washington D.C. turned out to be mail drops.
The Union address “does not have any name on the door except
‘Intelligence, Inc.'” Trezza said.
NAWF coin-cans in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and
Pennsylvania came to the attention of Associated Humane because they
bore photos from Associated Humane Society mailings, Trezza said.
“We contacted the Charitable Registration Section of the New
Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs several months ago,” Trezza
said. “However, there seems to have been no action taken and there
is an increase in the number of cans placed.”
Said Whalen, “I found 28 collection cans, most of them half
filled, within eight miles of Pets Alive. Figure even $5.00 a can
every two weeks just here in Middletown and that is a lot of money.
They have cans as far away as the Petco store in Melville, Long
Island, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they have 1,000 cans out there
“Two stores I contacted called me to say the cans were picked
up by a man who also picked up cans for a ‘prevent child abuse’ group
called ‘1-888-525-SAFE,'” Whelan added. “I called and an elderly
man told me that it educates about child abuse. I gave him my name
and address and asked for information. I asked if they were
affiliated with the National Animal Welfare Foundation. He swore
that they were not. He told me that they were licensed to raise
funds in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, and have an
application pending in New York.”
The 1-888-525-SAFE telephone number appears on the web site
of a group called Experience Counts Inc., of Cliffwood, New Jersey,
which filed IRS Form 990 only in 1997. The filing confirmed that the
groupwas funded partially by coin-cans.
The Experience Counts web site promotes a book called Bring
Back The Wood-shed, by Arnold D. Herman. According to the web site,
“Herman and his wife have raised 32 teenagers. Five were their own
children. Twenty-two were placed in their home by the New Jersey
Division of Youth & Family Services. Herman was given custody of two
more by the New Jersey Family Court System. Two others were
relatives, and one was a neighborhood girl who came to spend a
weekend and stayed for two and one-half years. Twenty-eight of the
teens were female. Most were hard-to-handle abused youngsters who
had been in multiple placements. Herman was a certified trainer of
prospective foster parents for the NJ/DYFS, specializing in teaching
methods of handling adolescent acting-out.”
The Bergen Record identified Herman in 1986 and 1989 as head
of an organization called Foster Friends Inc., which was crusading
against a New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services rule
prohibiting the use of corporal punishment on foster children.
Herman told Bergen Record staff writer Victor E. Sasson in
December 1986 that in 1983 he spanked one his then four foster
daughters for allegedly pulling a knife on another girl. “The girl
he spanked reported Herman to her teacher,” Sasson wrote, “and the
NJ/DYFS ordered all four girls removed from his home, said Herman.
Herman said he and his wife won a court order preventing the removal
of the girls, then had the DYFS decision reversed at an
“Experience Counts Inc. has no organizational connection with
the National Animal Welfare Foundation,” Herman told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“The National Animal Welfare Foundation does place canisters for
Experience Counts Inc.,” he acknowledged, “under a ‘piggyback’
arrangement in New York state, because of the high cost of gasoline
and wages. We are not crazy about the arrangement,” Herman claimed,
“because child abuse prevention canisters do not do well alongside
animal protection canisters. However this does allow us to get our
name into areas where we would not be otherwise.
“I am not aware of the scope of the activity of the National
Animal Welfare Foundation,” Herman said. “I am led to believe that
they make donations to animal protection groups. Patrick Jemas
worked at one time for Associated Humane as a fundraiser, and I
believe there is hostility between him and the top staff. Gus Jemas
is Pat’s father. I have no idea who William E. Helwig is.”
Herman said Foster Friends was dissolved in 1995.
Trezza confirmed that Patrick Jemas was once an Associated
Humane coin-can collector. She added that Herman closed Foster
Friends and incorporated Experience Counts after she complained
repeatedly about Foster Friends fundraising tactics to the New Jersey
State Divison of Consumer Affairs.
Associated Humane and other South Atlantic region humane
societies have had much past experience with obscure and unauthorized
coin can fundraisers.
In March 2002, for example, Associated Humane discovered its own
photos on coin-cans placed by a group calling itself “Exotic Rescue,”
using unverifiable addresses in Wood-bridge, New Jersey, and
Washing-ton D.C. A representative of an Iowa charity called Exotic
Rescue told Trezza that “a man named Mark Lee places candy vending
machines for her,” Trezza wrote in a May 2002 letter to New Jersey
Division of Criminal Justice director Paul H. Zoubek–but the Iowa
charity also said it had not received any money from Lee, according
to later correspondence from Trezza to the New Jersey Division of
Consumer Affairs Charities Registration Unit.
“Associated Humane was recently notified that Lee has a plain
piece of paper which he gives to merchants that states he is
authorized to pick up Associated Humane collection cans,” Trezza
In January 2001, Associated Humane and a charity formed by
the Kinneton Harley Owners Group on behalf of a two-year-old girl
with a serious heart condition were allegedly victimized by Kelley
Gormley, 23, and Tracey Pearsall, 21. Identifying Gormley and
Pearsall as heroin addicts, Pompton Lake police charged them with
stealing at least $1,400 from collection cans that they picked up in
three counties under false pretenses.
In 1995, two years after former pet store owners Sheri Gould
and Alan Deitschman were convicted of neglecting dogs, the Bucks
County SPCA traced coin-cans for an unknown “Animal Welfare League”
to Gould and Deitschman. As neither the IRS nor state agencies pay
much attention to charities financed by small change, although the
take from 100 well-placed collection canisters can exceed $50,000 per
year, and since the U.S. Supreme Court has held that begging is
constitutionally protected free speech, the Bucks County SPCA could
only tell merchants who had the cans on their counters that the
“Animal Welfare League” had no connection with recognized humane
Beginning in fall 1996 groups calling themselves the
Volunteer State Humane Society and Humane Society of the Carolinas
placed hundreds of tin banks shaped like dogs on counters in
Tennessee and the Carolinas. Both organizations appeared to have
been formed by one Troy Taylor, the listed owner of the PostNet
maildrops in each city, where the “humane society” telephones
rang–but ANIMAL PEOPLE, in repeated tries, never got an answer,
nor were messages returned.
Neither group appears to have ever filed IRS Form 990, but
ANIMAL PEOPLE did obtain bylaws, articles of incorporation, a
mission statement, and a letter of introduction from the Volunteer
State Humane Society.
“Our organization is primarily a fundraising entity,” the
letter said, “which frequently serves to engender fear and suspicion
on initial contact with animal welfare organizations.” The letter
went on to decry ” people worried about high school kids dissecting
frogs,” and to deplore “people taking ther children to see the
Barnum and Bailey [circus] and being screamed at.” It asserted that
“the animals in a high-quality circus have a better life than the
majority of humans.”
Added the letter, “We have pledged to keep our overhead at
less than 50%,” well above the 35% ceiling set by theWise Giving
Alliance. The letter suggested that an attorney might contact any
The Volunteer State Humane Society mission statement said it
would “provide assistance to animal shelters, rescue groups, and
low-cost spay/neuter clinics.”
Humane societies in Tennessee and the Carolinas told ANIMAL
PEOPLE that they had not received any VSHS or HSC money, adding that
the tin dogs had cut into their own coin-can revenue.
ANIMAL PEOPLE published an expose of the scheme in April 1997.
Coin-cans from both organizations have occasionally reappeared,
according to callers to ANIMAL PEOPLE, but have been removed after
local humane societies began asking questions.