A Pittsburgh company has employed dozens of convicted felons over the past five years to make fundraising phone calls on behalf of well-known charities in violation of Pennsylvania law, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. By hiring professional solicitors with criminal backgrounds to raise money for diverse and well-known groups, Outreach Associates Inc. appears to have violated Pennsylvania’s 1990 Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act.
In response to inquiries by the Post-Gazette, the company announced Friday that it had suspended nine employees with criminal records. “This shouldn’t have happened. It was wrong,” said president Dennis McCarthy. “The statute was out there although Outreach operated apparently for decades without anybody saying anything. Ignorance is no excuse.” As it does with all its workers, Outreach provided the convicted thieves, forgers, drug felons and registered sex offenders who have worked at its call center with potential donors’ home addresses all over the country along with donation information such as the highest amount they pledged. Anyone charging a donation gives the solicitors a credit card number.