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Fundraiser investigated – Churches alleged to be fronts

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Timothy J. Lyons, a telemarketer who raised over $10 million in the name of AIDS, disabled children and veterans and then pocketed over 90 percent of the money, has been the focus of an FBI investigation for three years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Aug. 20.

Investigators believe Lyons and his associates set up churches as fronts to avoid fundraising reporting requirements that restrict most charities. Church founders have not provided any evidence that money raised for the churches’ charities benefited AIDS patients or veterans.

Since 1993, Lyons has raised $10.7 million for the churches. State records show his cut was $9.5 million.

Lyons has not been found guilty of any criminal misconduct in his nationwide fund solicitations and claims much of his share goes to pay telemarketing and overhead costs.

Since the criminal probe began three years ago, Lyons has raised another $7 million. Investigators are set to continue the probe.

For full story go to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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