There's No Memorial to Fallen Service Members. But There's a New Federal Lawsuit.
Back in July, WFAA-Channel 8's Byron Harris spent quite some time digging into the doings of the Kennedale-based United States Fallen Heroes Foundation, which said it was a nonprofit raising funds to construct a memorial in Tarrant County to servicemen and women killed in action since September 11, 2001. Turned out, the Mansfield man who was running it at the time, Walter Coleman, falsely represented himself as a veteran and "fabricated IRS forms to create the impression that his foundation was a legitimate, registered 501(c)(3) public charity," according to the Texas Attorney General's Office on August 31 of last year -- when Greg Abbott's office filed suit against the Fallen Heroes Foundation. Coleman quit right before he was to respond to a subpoena from the AG's office.
As it turns out, that was but the beginning of the foundation's troubles: In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Dallas on Tuesday, the foundation claims that two more of its higher-ups -- executive director Tonya Evans and Kathryn Taylor, her executive assistant -- took to the Internet and began "posting incorrect and erroneous information about the USFHF," including allegations of wrongdoing by USFHF Chairman and President Larry Summers. According to the USFHF's suit, Evans and Taylor demanded: Either Summers goes, or they do. But Summers -- who was not named in the state's suit and who, said the AG last August, "has fully cooperated with investigators from both the Attorney General's Office and the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office" -- had no intention of going anywhere.
So Evans and Taylor quit and went to Kansas, where they've started their own competing foundation: the American Fallen Warrior Memorial Foundation, which set up one fund-raising website with an address awfully close to the USFHF's. In the meantime, says the suit, local architects originally contacted to work with USFHF have lost faith in the whole thing, and a Stop the United States Fallen Heroes Foundation Facebook page has popped up. Schools holding fundraisers for the memorial don't know what to do, and on its own Facebook page (because it presently has no website), the USFHF keeps defending itself against inquiries like this one posted Monday: "Is there a way to get documented proof that this organization is legitiamte [sic]?"
The foundation's side of the sordid story follows. Jump, but mind the mud.
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