Group called deceptive for using Medal of Honor name

The words “Medal of Honor” popped up on the caller ID display of Dee Kline’s answering machine when the phone rang just before noon on Memorial Day.

As a widow of an Army soldier and a close friend of Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Harold “Hal” Fritz, she felt compelled to answer.

Much to her surprise, instead of Fritz or someone else from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the voice on the line was a recorded message.

“They ask if you want to donate a vehicle,” Kline said, describing the phone solicitation from “Medal of Honor charity.”

“I just can’t believe somebody would do that,” she said . “I think they’re using something they have no right to and leading you to believe they’re working with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.”

Kline’s curiosity prompted her to check the phone book, but there was no listing for Medal of Honor charity.

A couple of days later she saw a Medal of Honor charity newspaper advertisement. Several days after that, a friend in her Las Vegas neighborhood received the same recorded, telemarketer-style phone message soliciting donations from “Medal of Honor charity.”

“Donate your car! Running or not. Scholarships for Children of Nevada’s fallen servicemen. Same day pickup. We do all paperwork. Highest tax deduction in Nevada,” stated the ad, which listed the website address MOHCARS.com.

With revolving photos of children and families at military funerals mourning fallen soldiers and Marines, the website tugs at the heartstrings of patriotic Americans, urging them to donate used cars to raise money for sending children of the fallen to college under a tax-deductible “Medal of Honor” program. The home page features a “1-click donation” button next to an image of the Medal of Honor.

“Son of a fallen serviceman receiving the flag in his honor,” reads one of the generic captions below the mourning family photos.

Kline said she was appalled by the website’s content.

The Henderson-based Medal of Honor group, which claims to be a nonprofit corporation, run by Travis Peterson, of Ephraim, Utah, has no federal tax-exempt status as a charitable organization, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Peterson filed articles of incorporation on April 24 with the Nevada secretary of state, listing him as Medal of Honor’s noncommercial registered agent with an address of 701 N. Green Valley Parkway, No. 200.

An IRS official who checked tax-exempt organization listings last week said there were no recent filings for tax-exempt status for a Nevada organization called Medal of Honor. There are no previous tax-exempt listings for Medal of Honor on IRS master lists for Nevada or Utah.

A reference under “frequently asked questions” on Peterson’s website had said the Medal of Honor charity was partners with a tax-exempt organization in Michigan. But, when the registered agent of the Michigan charity learned about the Medal of Honor ad, she demanded that Peterson remove reference to her 501(c)(3) organization from his website because he had not signed an agreement with her and didn’t provide Better Business Bureau accreditation as she had required.

The reference was removed from the website June 22, but as of Monday, the Medal of Honor charity home page still stated: “Did you know that Federal Law allows Medal of Honor to guarantee the full Fair Market Value Tax Deduction for your vehicle at the time you donate?”

When contacted last week by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Peterson said he hadn’t made any donations to scholarship funds for children of fallen Nevada servicemen, nor could he name one fallen Nevada soldier, Marine, sailor or airman of the 79 who have died in the nation’s wars overseas since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He said he didn’t know the names of people portrayed as family members of fallen servicemen in the photographs on his website’s home page. One is a copyrighted Associated Press photo that shows an 8-year-old boy in Tennessee on the verge of crying as he is handed a folded flag during the funeral for his father, Marine Staff Sgt. Marcus Golczynski, who was killed in 2007 by enemy fire in Iraq.

Peterson said he didn’t think he needed permission from news outlets or the families to run their photos because his website designer copied them from Google images.

“When you’re a small charity just starting, you can’t give out funds you don’t have,” said Peterson, 44, adding he has never served in the U.S. armed forces.

However, Peterson, who has operated a car lot and real estate business in Utah, acknowledged having obtained some donated vehicles, but he wouldn’t say what became of them.

“A couple cars have come in, but they aren’t running,” he said. “We will be selling the vehicles unless they are junk; then they’ll go to the scrap yard.”

Peterson, who sometimes spells his name “Petersen,” had planned to have donated vehicles towed to a storage yard and hold auctions. Fees for towing and the auctions would be paid from proceeds that would be shared with a partner charity. The Medal of Honor would receive 85 percent of the balance.

“I’m trying to help people,” he said, adding that his charity is struggling.

But Medal of Honor recipient Harold Fritz said Peterson’s “cloaking” of his website, newspaper ad and telephone solicitations to replicate the authentic Congressional Medal of Honor Society organization “is a despicable ruse designed to deceive the compassionate and caring public.”

“This example of ‘identity theft’ displaces true compassion with self-serving greed!” Fritz, the society’s president, wrote in an email to the Review-Journal.

Fritz and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society complained about the ad, and the newspaper has stopped running it.

Congressional Medal of Honor Society spokeswoman Victoria Kueck said, “After speaking with Mr. Peterson, I was not convinced that he understood the concern that the (society) had about his website being misleading advertising and misrepresenting itself.”

She said the South Carolina-based society asked Peterson “to clearly post a disclaimer on the opening page of his website stating that the Society had no affiliation and the site was not endorsed by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society or any of its 81 living Medal of Honor recipients.”

“Mr. Peterson said that was not possible but would consider doing it elsewhere embedded within the website. It is dishonorable to solicit from potential donors in this manner,” Kueck said.

The website still appeared this week without a disclaimer on the home page.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at
krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegans Pack Public Lands Open House
A crowd filled the Clark County Library conference room Tuesday afternoon where Clark County officials hold their first -- and possibly only -- public meeting on plans to open almost 39,000 acres of federal land for development just outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area. County commissioners are set to vote June 19 on a potentially controversial resolution seeking federal legislation that would set aside tens of thousands of acres for conservation while giving Nevada’s largest community more room to grow. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police search Henderson Constable's home and office
Las Vegas police served search warrants Tuesday at Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell's home and office. The investigation was sparked by a Las Vegas Review-Journal story showing Mitchell wrote himself $70,000 in checks, used ATMs at casinos and video poker bars, and traveled to places his adult children live. All using county funds. Police refused to comment but Mitchell's attorney said he did nothing wrong.
Vegas Golden Knights fans shows his colors for community
Vegas Golden Knights superfan Lynn Groesbeck has wrapped his new truck with Knights logos and images. He loves how the Golden Knights are bringing community back to Las Vegas. People stop him on the street to take photos and share his support. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Acting Coach Daryl Morris on His Craft
Acting coach Daryl Morris, whose father Bobby was Elvis Presley's conductor in Las Vegas, discusses his craft and how he leads his own classes. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Constable wanted county funds to fight Review-Journal investigation
The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked for public records to investigate constable spending. But Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell hired outside counsel to fight the request. And he wanted the county to pay nearly $7,500 for those attorneys. The county declined. And records show the constable's office owes taxpayers $700,000. County officials said the money will be repaid over three years. Mitchell abandoned his re-election before the Review-Journal story ran.
BalanceVille Art Car Rides High Above First Friday
First Friday attendees got to ride in BalanceVille, a Burning Man art car that rises 50 feet in the air on a hydraulic lift. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Mecum Las Vegas Auction Draws Motorcycle Enthusiasts
Motorcycle enthusiasts descended on South Point Casino Friday for the Mecum Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction, which featured 600 vintage and collectible motorcycles and bikes. The auction is set to return to Las Vegas in January with more than 1,700 lots. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like