Ohio Joins Charity Fraud Bust: Company Kept 90 Cents of Every Dollar
- The complaint names ACS and its sister companies Central Processing Services and Community Services Appeal; their owners, Dick Cole, Bill Burland, Barbara Cole, and Amy Burland; and ACS senior managers Nikole Gilstorf, Tony Lia, John Lucidi, and Scot Stepek.
- “The FTC and our state partners are prepared to hold fraudsters accountable when they target generous consumers with lies.” “Robocall technology such as soundboards allows users to reach a significant target population, and when utilized for deceptive or misleading practices – especially in charitable solicitations, it, unfortunately, means a significant number of potential victims,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
- In many instances, the complaint alleges, ACS and later Directele knowingly violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by using soundboard technology in telemarketing calls.
- Gilstorf purchased Directele and The Dale Corporation in October 2019 and, with Lia, the Directele defendants allegedly continued the deceptive fundraising and illegal telemarketing practices.
- More than 500 phone numbers were even called 5,000 times or more.
- Defendants placed more than 1.3 billion deceptive fundraising calls—mostly illegal robocalls— claiming to support veterans, children, firefighters
The defendants will also be subject to the following monetary judgments:
- Scot Stepek will be subject to a monetary judgment of $110,063,843, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. Stepek will be required to sell a ski boat in his possession and turn over the net proceeds from the sale.
- Directele Inc., The Dale Corporation, Nikole Gilstorf, and Antonio Lia will be subject to a monetary judgment of $1.6 million. Gilstorf and Lia also will be subject to a judgment of $110,063,843. The judgments are partially suspended due to an inability to pay. Gilstorf and Lia will each be required to turn over $10,000.
- John Lucidi will be subject to a judgment of $110,063,843, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. He will be required to turn over $25,000.
Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia joined 35 other states, the FTC, and the District of Columbia to shut down this organized crime-styled company.