(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Attorney General Mike DeWine and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien today announced that John W. Hargrove has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for soliciting money for a fraudulent charity, Ohio Veterans Source (Ohio Vets), which he falsely claimed would aid local veterans. Hargrove has been ordered to pay more than $2,000 in restitution and has no chance for early release.
“Any kind of charitable scam is unacceptable, but this individual lied about helping veterans and took advantage of the elderly,” Attorney General DeWine said. “Fortunately our agencies were able to work together quickly to detect the scam and put a stop to it.”
Hargrove targeted the elderly and raised more than $2,000, which he claimed would assist local veterans. In reality, Hargrove, who is not a veteran, used the funds for himself.
The sentence was handed down by Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Sheward on Friday. Hargrove was convicted of one count of Prohibited Acts and Practices, a fourth degree felony, and one count of Felony Theft, a fifth degree felony.
“There was a week-long trial with over fifty witnesses who testified in this case -- which earned Hargrove this prison sentence for scamming veterans,” Prosecutor O’Brien said.
Hargrove was convicted in 2006 for running the same scam. Dozens of victims, many of whom were senior citizens, were duped into believing their funds would be used to aid Ohio veterans. He served 18 months in prison for illegally soliciting more than $8,000 allegedly to benefit Ohio Veterans Source. Following his release and probation, Hargrove again began soliciting for the same fraudulent charity.
The case was a joint effort of the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section, Columbus Division of Police, and the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office. The Bexley Police Department assisted with the first case against Hargrove.
Warning signs that a charitable request might be a scam include:
The charity's name is similar to a well-known, nationally recognized charity.
Callers use high-pressure tactics to request immediate donations.
The caller is hesitant or unable to answer questions.
The caller offers to pick up donations immediately instead of waiting to receive them in the mail.
The caller offers prizes in return for a donation.
The caller requests checks to be made payable to a person instead of the charity.
Individuals who want information about a charity should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
Dan Tierney, Attorney General's Office: 614-466-3840
Christy McCreary, Prosecutor's Office: 614-525-6396