Leader of Fraudulent Fund-Raising Business Sentenced to Over Four Years in Prison for Stealing Charitable Contributions
“Amera Funding” Diverted Over $2 Million Solicited on Behalf of Fraternal Orders of Police
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 03, 2009|
BALTIMORE, MD—U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Nicholas Baccala, age 51, formerly of Towson, Maryland, today to 51 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release for his leadership role in a scheme which diverted over $2 million of charitable contributions intended for Fraternal Orders of Police (FOPs), announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Judge Garbis also entered an order that Baccala pay $600,000 in restitution.
According to Baccala’s plea agreement, Baccala started a fund-raising business known as Amera Funding to raise money for FOPs in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area. Baccala directed Amera Funding employees to place calls to prospective donor businesses, falsely representing that their contributions would be given to the local FOPs. Baccala negotiated contracts with the FOPs which provided that Amera Funding would receive a percentage of the gross contributions, typically 70%. Amera Funding split the contributions with the FOPs during regular meetings which were referred to as “bank-outs.” At the bank-outs, Amera Funding was required to give 100 percent of the donations, or contribution checks, to the FOP. The FOP kept the contribution checks and wrote a check to Amera Funding representing 70 percent of the total.
Beginning in 2002, Baccala began spending time in Nevada, and eventually moved to Nevada. While in Nevada, Baccala continued to manage the daily activities of Amera Funding and directed others to continue to conduct the business in Maryland.
In November 2002, Baccala opened a new business account which was used to steal the contributions that were intended for the FOPs. Once the business account was in use, the vast majority of the contributions were diverted from the bank-outs, and were instead deposited into the business account. Baccala called from Nevada to others at Amera Funding in Maryland to learn the amount collected each day. During these daily telephone calls, Baccala directed others to deposit the contributions collected by Amera Funding into the business account. In order to continue the arrangement with the FOPs, Baccala occasionally directed that a small portion of the contributions were to be provided to a particular FOP at a bank-out. The FOPs were falsely advised that the bank-out represented all of the funds that had been collected since the previous
bank-out. In reality, the money given to the FOP was a small percentage, less than half, of what the business had collected on behalf of the FOPs.
From November 2002 until the end of 2005, over $2 million were deposited into the business account. The majority of this money was from contribution checks intended for FOPs that they never received. More than 50 businesses contributed donations that were never provided or disclosed to the FOPs. Baccala took over $600,000 from the business account to pay his personal bills, obtain cash and deposit funds into accounts of his wife.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its investigative work and commended Assistant United States Attorney Paul E. Budlow, who prosecuted the case.