Veterans charity officer accused of fraud

Aug. 21, 2008 at 3:28 PM

FAIRFAX, Va., Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Former board members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart allege the current executive director of the Virginia charity is guilty of fraud.

Ray Funderburk, former MOPH national public relations director, has accused Richard Esau of inappropriately spending tens of thousands of dollars of charity funds and allowing family favors to influence how other funds were dispersed, ABC News reported Thursday.

Once a forensic audit of the charity's finances began, charity officials fired Esau from the MOPH Service Foundation, foundation President James Blaylock said.

Blaylock defended the foundation's decision, saying there was enough initial evidence to justify Esau's removal.

Meanwhile, outgoing MOPH national commander Henry Cook told ABC News that the "outrageous" actions allegedly committed by Esau have robbed U.S. veterans of their benefits.

"This investigation is ongoing and it's going to get bigger," Cook said. "It is outrageous and unfair to those who donate their hard earned money to help veterans."

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