New Jersey attorney general files suit seeking to dissolve NJ Horse Angels
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2011:
NEWARK--New Jersey attorney general Paula T. Dow and Thomas R. Calcagni, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, on December 2, 2010 charged in a civil lawsuit that “Through the Internet, and in particular through Facebook, Sharon Catalano Crumb and a charitable organization known as NJ Horse Angels raised at least $145,132, purportedly to rescue horses from slaughter between September 2009 and September 2010.
“In contradiction to NJ Horse Angels’ mission,” the complaint states, “some of the charitable contributions paid for Crumb’s gambling; jewelry for Crumb’s unemployed live-in boyfriend Frank Wikoff, a trustee of NJ Horse Angels and a convicted felon; and for Crumb’s own personal horse.”
While representing “to at least one individual that no one associated with NJ Horse Angels, including Crumb, received monetary compensation,” the complaint continues, “Crumb withdrew $16,490 of the charitable contributions in cash. The charitable contributions also paid for entertainment and phone bills, and cash for Crumb’s son, currently serving a life sentence at Trenton State Prison, and cash for Crumb’s son’s childhood friend Baron Roesler, a parolee.” Crumb allegedly also raised funds as NJ Horse Angels Rescue, NJ Killpen Horses, Horse Angels of Facebook, Camelot Auction Horse Angels, and The Forgotten Angels, says the lawsuit, building a Facebook list of 4,990 “friends,” who donated through Paypal accounts.
“NJ Horse Angels is a New Jersey nonprofit,” the complaint states, formed in Phillipsburg in February 2010, but “is not registered as a charitable organization with the Attorney General,” as is required to solicit funds from the public. The organization purchased horses from the Camelot Auction Company of Cranbury, New Jersey, according to the complaint, but at times solicited funds to buy horses who had already been bought by others; solicited funds to buy particular horses even after sufficient funds had been raised to buy them; and solicited funds to buy particular horses that were not used to buy those horses.
“In some instances,” the complaint charges, “Crumb and NJ Horse Angels deleted Facebook posts notifying members that horses had already been bailed [purchased] by other individuals.”
The complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Crumb, Wikoff, and NJ Horse Angels from “directly or indirectly acting as a charitable organization, independent paid fundraiser, or solicitor,” or claiming to operate with a charitable purpose “from or within the State of New Jersey.” The complaint also asks for “joint and several civil monetary penalties” against Crumb, Wikoff, and NJ Horse Angels, and seeks to direct “Crumb, Wikoff, and NJ Horse Angels to restore to any affected person any moneys and real or personal property acquired by means of any practice alleged herein to be unlawful and found to be unlawful.”
Crumb rose to prominence in the horse rescue community as co-organizer of a posthumous fourth birthday party in April 2007 for Barbaro, winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby, who suffered a shattered hind leg at the start of the Preakness Stakes race a month later. Fans raised more than $1.2 million to help fund nearly two dozen surgeries in a seven-month effort to save Barbaro. He was euthanized due to untreatable pain in January 2007. The “Celebration of Barbaro’s Life,” as the April 2007 event was called, was held at the Delaware Park Raceway in Wilmington. Another co-organizer, Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue president Jo Deibel, of Glenville, Pennsylvania, was among several horse rescue bloggers who began warning donors about Crumb and NJ Horse Angels about a year before the New Jersey attorney general and Division of Consumer Affairs acted.
A Frank Wikoff who would be the same age as Crumb’s NJ Horse Rescue partner was charged with burglary in Phillips-burg in 1986.
Crumb’s son Christopher, “according to the New Jersey Department of Corrections and archived news reports, is a white supremacist serving a life sentence at Trenton State Prison for beating a disabled black Atlantic City man to death with his own cane in 1993,” wrote Stephen J. Novak of the Eaton Express-Times. The victim, Roy Dick, was a 75-year-old known for sweeping sidewalks as a community volunteer; Christopher Crumb was then 20, with a prior conviction for possession of an illegal weapon.
Henry Crumb, Sharon Crumb’s husband and Christopher Crumb’s father, was an Atlantic City bartender who was fatally stabbed by a customer in 2001.
Baron Roesler, the last named alleged beneficiary of funds raised in the name of NJ Horse Angels, was charged in 2006 with allegedly trying to break into a delicatessen.