Rogue Valley group named in state suit over collections for vets

A Rogue Valley veterans assistance nonprofit is named in a lawsuit filed by the Oregon attorney general which alleges the organization is keeping up to 80 percent of donations it collects.

The state alleges the No Veterans Left Behind Association collected and used up to $17,000 improperly. Since mid 2009, defendants and their paid solicitors have set up booths in front of stores in several Oregon counties, selling veterans-related gear and soliciting cash donations, says Tony Green, spokesman for the office of Oregon Attorney General John Kroger.

Store owners and shoppers allegedly were told that No Veterans Left Behind was an all-volunteer group that gave 75 percent to 80 percent of its donated proceeds directly to needy veterans. In fact, the lawsuit alleges, the people who ran the organization kept at least 80 percent of donations for their own use.

David Shane Gilbert, 39, of Medford, named in the lawsuit as the president of No Veterans Left Behind, denied the state's allegations and said his organization has helped many veterans in the Rogue Valley.

He said he thought 50 percent to 60 percent of the money the organization collected went to veterans' needs.

Gilbert denies volunteers were paid for the hours they worked but said their hotel rooms, food, drink and fuel costs were paid out of donations.

Gilbert is looking for legal representation to protect the nonprofit from the $67,000 settlement the state is seeking.

"They want $17,000 in restitution, plus an additional $50,000 to pay for their investigation," Gilbert said. "We don't even have the money for an attorney."

— Sanne Specht

More details: Friday's Mail Tribune

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