Would you buy a used car from this man?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2003:
HARTFORD–Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal “is
investigating whether the Animal Health Care Fund is just a clever
vehicle for a used car dealership to help itself,” reported Alan
Cohn of WTNH-News 8 on February 18.
Explained Cohn, “Some charitable organizations use donated
vehicles as a way to raise money. Donors receive a tax decution for
the fair market value of their car. The charity then re-sells the
vehicle and uses the money.”
The IRS in two mid-2002 rulings authorized charities to use
outside firms–such as used car dealers–to manage vehicle donation
However, “The office of the Animal Health Care Fund is a
used car lot: the Connecitcut Auto Auction in Stratford,” Cohn
found. “The owner of the used car lot, Rocky Guarnieri, is also
the president of the Animal Health Care Fund. Guarnieri has a rap
sheet,” Cohn added, “which includes convictions in the mid-1990s
for burglary, larceny, robbery, drugs, and more.”
The Animal Health Care Fund does not yet have tax-exempt
charitable status, Cohn learned, but in response to a subpoena from
Blumenthal, the organization acknowledged receiving 40 cars worth
$89,000 between October and December 2002.
Only $500 of the proceeds went toward charitable work,
reported Cohn, based on the documents that Blumenthal obtained.
“The organization says the sole beneficiary of its donations
is the Black Rock Animal Hospital in Bridgeport,” continued Cohn.
“but the receptionist there never heard of the Animal Health Care
Fund. The hospital owner, Amr Wasfri, DVM, says the only
arrangement he has with [Animal Health Care Fund spokesperson] Christy Kochanowicz is to treat her family cat.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE in October 2001 received information and made
inquries about a used car donation program with an allegedly similar
modus operandi that was then operating in the Lucerne Valley, near
Los Angeles. The purported beneficiary was a pit bull terrier rescue
group that did not seem to be known to other rescuers in the Los
Angeles area. Car donations were solicited in newspaper
advertisements placed in direct competition with similar ads for the
Los Angeles SPCA and Last Chance for Animals car donation programs.
The ads included an unlisted telephone number and did not mention
support of any specific nonprofit organization. The ads apparently
stopped running after ANIMAL PEOPLE left a message on the answering
machine that received the calls, asking for the program particulars.