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Roach shares his version of events

Posted: October 7, 2012 - 9:12pm

Frank Roach admits he did a lot of things wrong. His financial disclosures were illegible and he failed to register the telemarketers working for his nonprofit company, among other hiccups.

But, Roach — the man who authorities allege intentionally kept donations, monetary and otherwise, to pay for his lifestyle and not “Boxes for Heroes” as he claimed — says his heart was in the right place.

His organization did what they said they’d do — send boxes to troops overseas. He and others sent hundreds of boxes during the past six years, he said in an interview with the Clarion.

“When this thing finally goes to court, our intentions will be examined. What were our intentions?” Roach said. “To give care packages to the troops, which is exactly what we did.”

Roach’s trial is set for Dec. 17 at the Kenai Courthouse, and the legal parties are establishing evidence needed to convict or exonerate him. No new details have emerged in the case’s court documents, but Roach argues only half the story, the rise and fall of Boxes, has been told to the public.

Roach took over the organization’s operations in April 2010. It claimed to be raising money to send care packages to deployed soldiers. Donations were received at retail stores from Wasilla to Homer and from telephone solicitations, according to the state’s Office of Special Prosecutions.

Employees were paid for providing services to the organization, such as managing stands in front of grocery stores. Roach used the remaining money, state prosecutors argued. Roach’s charges include scheme to defraud, first-degree theft and seven counts of second-degree theft.

An investigation led by Kenai Police Department Investigator Jeff Whannell claims “Boxes for Heroes” raised more than $140,000 in donations from April 2010 to October 2011. Roach allegedly used the money as his sole source of income and to pay for all his living expenses.

Roach was arraigned May 8 at the Kenai Courthouse. He posted $250 bail following an Aug. 12 bail hearing. He also sought to have the case’s venue moved due to local media coverage, but the court decided against the request.

During the prosecution’s timeframe, Boxes for Heroes conducted five events around Southcentral Alaska.

In June 2010, an event was held at the Soldotna Boys & Girls Club, and volunteers put together 150 care packages. In December 2010, organizers at the Wasilla Boys & Girls Club put together 850 packages. One week later at Kenai’s local Club, volunteers put together 300 packages. On Valentine’s Day 2011, under Frank’s direction, volunteers visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and handed out fruit baskets.

The items seized by the Kenai Police Department were collected during a four-month period from July to October 2010, Roach argues.

“There was some stuff from past drives like baby wipes ... but as far as the food items, those were fresh stuff collected in that short period; there was no way we were hoarding the stuff,” Roach said.

Roach noted the items recently released to Dave Carey’s nonprofit organization — The Red, White and Blue program — were allotted with his permission. As stated in an Aug. 17 affidavit, “The property would be released to Dave Carey ... per an agreement with Francis Roach through his attorney Chris Cyphers of the Alaska Public Defenders Agency.”

The items would have been wasted if he refused to release the evidence, Roach said.

“We had so much stuff left over one time, we donated four truckloads of stuff to a local church,” he said.

A total of four truckloads were donated to Kenai’s United Methodist Church after a successful 2010 Christmas drive, he said.

Court records filed by Investigator Whannell paint Roach’s collected items in another light, however.

The pages of an affidavit filed by the Police Department on July 2 are filled with pictures of items seized during the service of a search warrant on the nonprofit’s storage units.

The search warrants were served on Oct. 28, 2011 and resulted in the seizure of “three pickup truck loads” of consumable and perishable items with an estimated value of thousands of dollars. Also, about 50 grocery bags containing food, 45 boxes of other consumables and 25 cases of noodles were seized, according to the affidavit.

The picture of the boxes of noodles shows food packages stacked to shoulder height. Another picture shows three large black totes containing snacks and toiletries.

During the release of the property on Aug. 13, officers discovered an additional 90 flat rate U.S. Postal Service boxes containing snacks and toiletries. The boxes slump over in the faded picture of the affidavit.

Roach said the boxes’ shipment was under way. He also said the boxes were always sent through the U.S. National Guard’s Family Program, which offers assistance to service members across the county and overseas.

Since 2006 — when Roach concocted the idea for Boxes but operated under the Alaska Veterans Foundation — he, with the help of others, completed 18 care package drives.

“We always sent out the boxes the same way, from day one, through the National Guard,” he said.

As authorities wrapped up their case, Roach attempted to cut a $500 check for The Friends of the National Guard and Reserve, which provides financial assistance to family members of the Guard. The organization wouldn’t return Roach’s calls, possibly due to the approaching criminal charges.

Therein lies Roach’s second argument of innocence. Donations were never conveyed as a way to pay for postage, he said. He and the employees made clear the donations went toward the nonprofit’s own expenses.

Roach’s commission was 20 percent as founder and director of Boxes for Heroes. Telemarketers — who were unregistered, which is not a criminal offense but results in fines — received 25 to 40 percent of the donations collected; Roach argues the percentage is an industry standard. Drivers received 10 to 15 percent of the money collected. The rest went into the organization.

At one point, Roach had offices in the Mat-Su Valley, Soldotna and Kenai. The Valley’s office was closed due to lack of funds. Roach listed additional costs: printing, phones, transportation.

“It takes thousands of dollars a month to run this thing,” he said.

During the same 16-month period prosecutors are centering the case on, Roach made $36,000, he said. That amount is more than 20 percent of the $140,000 prosecutors have cited.

“The damage is done,” he said. “If people don’t want to donate to the program — fine. Don’t donate, man. Donate to a larger nonprofit where only six percent goes toward the cause.”

The Internal Revenue Service did not audit Boxes for Heroes during the Police Department’s investigation. The nonprofit is in compliance with the IRS’s 27-month rule. That is, new nonprofits have 27 months to submit a 501(c)3 form to the IRS. Roach said Boxes for Heroes, as an actually entity, had been around for 16 months before the authorities stepped in.

Investigating officers admit Roach was within industry standards. They handed down criminal charges, however.

“Basically, I didn’t keep good books,” Roach said. “Some of them are illegible; you can’t even read them. But the records are there, on the single credit card I used for Boxes for Heroes.

“It’s a witch-hunt. What’s stopping them from coming down on others for what they perceive as spending money the wrong way?”

His former employees planned a hostile takeover because they did not like how things were handled, he said.

“I’ll admit there are things I didn’t do right, OK?” Roach said. “I in no way, ever, schemed to defraud people.”

State prosecutors are attempting to try the corporation, Boxes for Heroes, separate from Roach, but no public defender agency has offered to handle the case.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.

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Suss
3911
Points
Suss 10/08/12 - 10:10 am
0
0
Roach gets his free lawyer

Roach gets his free lawyer beacuse he has no money, then he hires a well paid lawyer, hmmmm what gives? What changed? Roach wants a change of venue because of the press, then gives the press an interview creating more publicity. The Valley misses Roach like they miss the rain.

Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
To the editor:

In a recent article, your publication mentioned the Alaska Veterans Foundation Inc. in relation to recent legal action against a former associate, Frank Roach and his Boxes for Heroes project.

Frank Roach is not nor has he been associated with this foundation for some time. He was briefly supported by the foundation some years ago when he approached us to work with him in his ongoing project, known as Boxes for Heroes. At that time we found that he did in fact have a program operated in the Mat-Su area where he gathered funds and in-kind donations at the Three Bears market at Four Corners. He was also then working with the Boys and Girls Club of Mat-Su in the organization, packaging and mailing out these boxes. The program appeared to be legitimate and we were pleased to offer our assistance.

Some months after this started, we received a significant in-kind donation from a local distributor, which was turned over to Frank. Weeks later we received a call from that contributor angry that his contribution was being sold to bars and other businesses in the Kenai area. We advised we knew nothing about this and immediately attempted to contact Frank to find out what he was doing with these donated items. We discovered that, in fact, he had taken the donation and was selling it for cash — totally without our knowledge or permission. We contacted the local police department and terminated our relationship with Frank and his program.

Later, we discovered that checks that had been made out to the foundation, at the request of Frank were altered with his name on them, or the donor was asked to put his name on them — and he was cashing them for his own use, again without our knowledge or consent.

We cooperated with the Kenai police and other law enforcement agencies investigating these issues and other claims against Frank at that time. We were later informed that Frank had been found guilty of forgery and was in jail.

Although the Boxes for Heroes project started out as what appeared to be a legitimate veterans/service members support effort, it turned into something that the foundation could not support nor be affiliated with and we dropped all solicitations for that program.

As late as this winter, we were again interviewed by law enforcement about Frank and his program and again advised that Frank was not affiliated with the foundation in any way and certainly had no authority to imply otherwise. We actually filed a complaint about Frank and his activities.

It is the purpose of the foundation to be supportive of veteran charities if we find them legitimate and transparent. We have often been approached and have approached such organizations, and had to walk away because of our concerns. We welcome the legal actions against Frank and will continue to be cooperative in any further investigations regarding his activities if requested.

Ric Davidge, chairman

Alaska Veterans

Foundation

http://www.frontiersman.com/opinions/letters_to_editor/roach-not-associated-with-alaska-veterans-foundation-inc/article_...

Watchman on the Wall
2893
Points
Watchman on the Wall 10/08/12 - 12:19 pm
0
1
Judge named RAID needed here

Man what a wonderful thing it would be if the Judge presiding over this shameful case was named RAID.AHHHHHHHH!!
This mans actions have caused much support for OUR Vets to be restricted out of fear for other scams like Roach pulled.
What say we send him to Afgan as a Road mine sweeper, or would that not be acceptable?
I wonder if Roach is a Liberal Democrate that votes?
Sorry that was just wrong for me to wonder and ask, even though it may have been a lagite question for some in determining if Roach is American or not and can be tried in American courts for his sins against humanity under our twisted laws to protect the guilty at the expence of the innocent.

robert white
378
Points
robert white 10/09/12 - 07:47 am
1
0
Roach

I think 2 years in the slammer is just! He can start condoms for felons!

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 10/11/12 - 12:41 pm
0
0
Chump

10/11/12 YES I was dumb enough to Donate to this Veterans Cause without asking any Questions.
donated $50.00 outside a local store
I Got Burned.
The really Sad part in this whole mess. Many people will now hesitate to donate to charities for Veterans because of Roach.

This is a huge problem in the Lower 48. Ask any Veteran or those Returning Home from Afghanistan.

SPW "Airborne"

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