Man Who Received Thousands of Dollars for Bogus Veterans Charity Convicted; Funds To Be Transfered to Wounded Warriors Project

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced that a 53-year-old man accused of fraudulently receiving thousands of dollars for a bogus armed forces veterans’ charity has been convicted in Fall River Superior Court, and that proceeds seized during the investigation will be turned over to the Wounded Warriors Project charitable fund.

Gary Fincher, a homeless drifter from Texas, was pleaded guilty Monday to charges of larceny over $250 and misleading police.

On August 4, 2014, Sgt. Michael Ellsworth of the Mansfield Police Department witnessed Mr. Fincher soliciting donations for a charity called “Help for Homeless Vets.” Mr. Fincher was soliciting the donations outside of the Mansfield Stop and Shop grocery store. The defendant was seated at a table near the exit doors of the store, was wearing a veterans hat and an veterans ID badge. His table was stocked with signage and pamphlets for the “Help for Homeless Vets” charity. The defendant, in a brief exchange with Sgt. Ellsworth, said he had served in the military in 1979 and 1980.

Sgt. Ellsworth, a veteran himself, made inquiries to the Attorney General’s Office and was informed that “Help for Homeless Vets” was not a registered charitable organization. When Sgt. Ellsworth returned to the grocery store to speak with Mr. Fincher, the defendant had already packed up his table and was on the move.

Through further investigation by Mansfield Police, it was determined that Mr. Fincher was keeping the money donated to the non-existent charitable organization. $783 in cash was located in his vehicle and around $10,000 was in a bank account.  After his arrest, the defendant admitted to police that he travelled the country accepting money from strangers under the pretense that he was collecting money for charity.

During his sentencing hearing in Fall River Superior Court Monday, Assistant District Attorney argued for a two to three years state prison sentence and also sought to have the seized money transferred to a reputable veterans charitable organization.  Mr. Fincher’s defense argued for a 14 month state prison term.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Superior Court Judge Rene Dupuis sentenced Mr. Fincher to 14 months in state prison (deemed served due to his pretrial detention), and ordered that $8,979 be paid as restitution to the Wounded Warriors project, a nationally recognized veterans charity.  Judge Dupuis also placed Mr. Fincher on supervised probation for three years. If he violates his probation, he faces up to 10 years in state prison.

“I am happy that the defendant has been held accountable for his despicable conduct.  Holding himself out as collecting for a Veterans Organization, when in fact, he was stealing the money for himself.  The defendant took advantage of the good will of the citizens of Bristol County,” District Attorney Quinn said.  “Although I feel he deserved more prison time I am pleased that the monies seized from the defendant will be turned over to the Wounded Warrior Project.   These are the individuals that deserve our gratitude and admiration for fighting to protect us and suffering life altering injuries.”

Gregg Miliote
Director of Communications