2 men arrested, accused of telemarketing fraud that cheated people of millions of dollars

Aug 17, 2023, 2:15 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Two men were arrested in Nevada and Wisconsin on Thursday on charges that they carried out separate telemarketing scams that cheated people across the country of tens of millions of dollars.

Criminal charges in Manhattan federal court were lodged against Richard Zeitlin, 53, of Las Vegas, and Robert Piaro, 73, of Fredonia, Wisconsin.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the men lied to donors by falsely letting them believe most of their donations were going to help veterans, aid law enforcement officers and fight breast cancer.

“Instead, Zeitlin and Piaro allegedly exploited these important causes and the good intentions of everyday citizens to steal millions of dollars in small donations,” Williams said in a news release.

Lawyers for Zeitlin and Piaro did not immediately respond to emailed requests from The Associated Press seeking comment.

According to an indictment in New York, Zeitlin’s businesses pocketed 90 percent of the funds that were donated from 2017 to 2020 as a result of telemarketing campaigns.

The indictment said that Zeitlin “Call Centers” for decades had raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charities and political action committees by making hundreds of thousands of calls to donors and potential donors.

Although the majority of fundraising campaigns focused on charities, Zeitlin began encouraging prospective clients to operate PACs rather than charities in 2017 to dodge regulations that pertain to charities but not PACs, the indictment said.

Beginning at least in 2017, Zeitlin began using the centers to defraud individuals by falsely describing how their money would be spent and the nature of the organizations that would receive money, it said.

Authorities said Zeitlin directed employees to mislead donors into thinking they were donating money to charities rather than PACs and that their money would go toward an organization rather than the telemarketers.

Over a five-year period from 2017 to December 2022, Piaro made false statements and misrepresentations to donors to raise over $28 million for PACs he owned including Americans for the Cure of Breast Cancer, the Association for Emergency Responders & Firefighters, the US Veterans Assistance Foundation and Standing by Veterans, an indictment said.

The indictment said Piaro directed a fundraising effort that misrepresented to donors that donations would be used to advance specific legislation, educate lawmakers and conduct and fund research.

Zeitlin was charged with two conspiracy counts, wire fraud and obstruction of justice charges, which carry a potential penalty of up to 100 years in prison.

Piaro was charged with wire and mail fraud, charges which carry a potential penalty of up to 60 years in prison.

National News

FILE - Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., appears before the House Rules Committee to propose amendments to t...

Associated Press

Gaetz says he will seek to oust McCarthy as speaker this week and calls for new House leadership

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Matt Gaetz said Sunday he will try to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican, from his leadership position this week after McCarthy relied on Democratic support to pass legislation that avoided a government shutdown. Gaetz, a longtime McCarthy nemesis, said McCarthy was in “brazen, material breach” of agreements he […]

11 minutes ago

FILE - Chester County, Pa. election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots at West Chester Un...

Associated Press

Pennsylvania governor’s voter registration change draws Trump’s ire in echo of 2020 election clashes

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Donald Trump has a familiar target in his sights: Pennsylvania’s voting rules. He never stopped attacking court decisions on mail-in ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic, falsely claiming it as a reason for his 2020 loss in the crucial battleground state. Now, the former Republican president is seizing on a decision by […]

2 hours ago

FILE - The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Wednesday, Aug 30, 2023, in Washington. The new term of the ...

Associated Press

The Supreme Court’s new term starts Monday. Here’s what you need to know

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems a bit quieter than in recent years, as the justices begin a new term. Major cases await, as they always do, including several challenges to regulatory agencies and efforts to regulate social media platforms. But nothing yet seems on par with conservative-driven decisions overturning Roe v. Wade’s right […]

3 hours ago

Run by a private firm hired by the city, migrants stay in a makeshift shelter at O'Hare Internation...

Associated Press

Chicago is keeping hundreds of migrants at airports while waiting on shelters and tents

CHICAGO (AP) — Hidden behind a heavy black curtain in one of the nation’s busiest airports is Chicago’s unsettling response to a growing population of asylum-seekers arriving by plane. Hundreds of migrants, from babies to the elderly, live inside a shuttle bus center at O’Hare International Airport’s Terminal 1. They sleep on cardboard pads on […]

9 hours ago

The ruins of a home destroyed by a deadly August wildfire lay outside the boundary of a Hawaiian ho...

Associated Press

Native Hawaiian neighborhood survived Maui fire. Lahaina locals praise its cultural significance

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Shaun “Buge” Saribay felt like giving up. Hours of makeshift firefighting with garden hoses and buckets of water across Lahaina didn’t stop flames from consuming his house, his rental properties and thousands of other structures in his beloved hometown. Drained, dirty and delirious, he continued anyway, pedaling a bicycle he found […]

10 hours ago

A family spends time on the beach as scuba divers, Tanasia Swift, second right, and Sarah Sears fir...

Associated Press

In New York City, scuba divers’ passion for the sport becomes a mission to collect undersea litter

NEW YORK (AP) — On a recent Sunday afternoon, the divers arrived on a thin strip of sand at the furthest, watery edge of New York City. Oxygen tanks strapped to their backs, they waded into the sea and descended into an environment far different from their usual terrestrial surroundings of concrete, traffic and trash-strewn […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

2 men arrested, accused of telemarketing fraud that cheated people of millions of dollars