Washington (CNN)—In a rare joint action with attorneys general for each of the 50 states, the Federal Trade Commission says four cancer charities run by extended members of the same family conned donors out of $187 million from 2008 through 2012 and spent almost nothing to help actual cancer patients.
Each of the charities charged were the subject of extensive reporting by CNN in 2013. And in each instance, none of the four charities would comment. We were ordered out of the building at the Cancer Fund of America in Knoxville, Tennessee, and were the object of an obscene gesture by the CEO of The Breast Cancer Society in Mesa, Arizona.
The Cancer Fund of America is run by James Reynolds Sr. His son James Reynolds Jr. is the CEO of the Breast Cancer Society. Another charity, the Children's Cancer Fund of America, is run by Rose Perkins, the ex-wife of the elder James Reynolds. He's also the CEO of the fourth charity, Cancer Support Services.
The government says the charities claimed to provide direct support for cancer patients, breast cancer patients and children with cancer.
"These were lies," the government's complaint says.
Jessica Rich, chief of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, says that in all, the charities spent about 97% of donations they received either on private fundraisers or on themselves. Only 3%, she says, went to help actual cancer patients.