New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman won a court order to shut down the National Children’s Leukemia Foundation (NCLF), as court papers filed on Monday allege the charity’s founder pocketed up to a million dollars and ran the organization out of his basement in Brooklyn.
NCLF claimed to be one of the US’ leading organizations supporting the terminally ill, promising to match patients with bone marrow donors and fulfill dying wishes through the "Make a Dream Come True” program.
According to court documents, NCLF fraudulently collected more than $10 million in the period from 2009 to 2013, and paid almost 83 percent of that sum to fundraisers, leaving only $57,541 for supporting sick kids. About five percent of the funds were sent to an Israeli organization run by NCLF head Zvi 'Steve' Shor’s sister, purportedly for funding research. Shor was paying himself a $600,000 salary, and another $600,000 in other forms of compensation.
"Nothing is more shameful than pocketing millions of dollars donated by good-hearted people who just wanted to help children afflicted with a terminal illness," Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement following news that the court order to close NCLF had been granted.
The organization allegedly lied about nearly all of its activities; despite what donors were told, the NCLF did not run a bone marrow registry or a cancer research center, and knowingly misled contributors about where their money was going.
"I launched NCLF after the death of my teenage son to leukemia. I personally took no salary for over 8 years. I wanted to help as many families as I could who had children suffering from cancer," he told ABC News.
“We expect to be vindicated in court when the full story is explained,” he added.
The New York Attorney General’s office is now awaiting a court order to force NLFC to pay out refunds as well as damages to donors.