Police Protective Fund raises millions of dollars each year in the name of fallen officers. On Tuesday, four men in charge of the charity's telemarketing operations were arrested on charges of hiring felons to raise that money, says the Center for Investigative Reporting. Charity regulators with Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services descended on the boiler-room operations this week and began running criminal background checks on each employee. They determined that several felons had been hired and were soliciting donations.
Florida law bans charities from knowingly employing telemarketers who have been convicted of fraud and other financial felonies. James Campanelli, 22, said he worked at the phone room for nine months until leaving in 2011. He said employees talked openly about their criminal pasts. “It wasn't a hush-hush thing, but I thought it was weird they were getting people's credit card numbers,” Campanelli said. “It seemed like the people who did real well were the guys that did time. They learned how to be smooth.” The raid was prompted by an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting, which named Police Protective Fund as one of the nation’s worst charities based on its high fundraising expenses.