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Published: Friday, 11/11/2011

Honor Flight gets $10,000 grant

Award is part of the money recovered from charity scam

BLADE STAFF

Honor Flight of Northwestern Ohio, which transports area veterans to Washington to see the memorials built in their honor, was awarded $10,000 Thursday from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine as part of $70,182 in grants to veterans' charities throughout the state.

The funds represented money that has been recovered to date from the investigation of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a fraudulent charity scam that solicited donations that were supposed to benefit veterans.

About $900,000 actually was donated to the fraudulent charity by Ohioans, but only a small portion of that has been recovered by investigators, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for the attorney general's office.

Blanca Contreras, the organization's treasurer, was sentenced in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in August to five years in prison on charges of theft, money laundering, tampering with records, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Investigators still are seeking a the leader of the organization, who goes by the alias Bobby Thompson.

"As we take time this week to honor the men and women who have served in our armed forces, I am pleased that we were able to recover donations originally intended to help veterans and direct them to charities like Honor Flight, which helps veterans travel to our nation's capital," Mr. DeWine said in a statement.



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