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Calif. AG sues vet charity over donations

  |   Aug. 10, 2012 at 9:20 AM
SACRAMENTO, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- California Attorney General Kamala Harris says a charity that supports wounded U.S. service members squandered donations on big salaries and golf memberships.

Harris is suing Help Hospitalized Veterans to recover $4.3 million and remove several officers and board members, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Riverside County-based charity used donations for lavish salaries and spent $80,000 on golf memberships, Harris alleges in her lawsuit.

The suit says the charity used "accounting tricks" in its filings to the IRS and attorney general to inflate the amount of money it spent on military personnel.

The tax-exempt group reported revenue of $45 million in 2011, including $30 in cash donations. However, the charity rating group Charity Watch says only 35 percent of Help Hospitalized Veterans' income was spent on programs for service members compared to 65 percent by similar groups.

Roger Chapin, the longtime president of HHV, received a $2 million pension when he retired in 2009. He and his wife, Elizabeth, are both named in the lawsuit.

HHV was created in 1968 to send "gift packs" to soldiers in Vietnam.

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