(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced a settlement with a central Ohio man accused of misrepresenting a cancer diagnosis to solicit and subsequently misuse charitable donations for a cancer organization and scholarship fund.
“This isn’t the crime of the century – but charity and deceit don’t mix,” Yost said. “Hopefully the two organizations can now move forward in advancing their respective missions without having this hanging over their heads.”
Under the terms of the settlement, John Looker, of Newark, agreed to pay $1,800 in restitution and a $2,000 civil fine. Looker also agreed to not hold any position with a charitable organization in Ohio (except as a volunteer uninvolved with charitable trust money) and that he will not participate in any charitable solicitations in Ohio.
Looker solicited charitable contributions to and for Pelotonia from 2009 through Aug. 5, 2018 under the false pretense that he had been diagnosed with and treated for multiple forms of cancer. In May 2016, Looker hosted an annual yard sale and claimed that 100% of the proceeds would go to Pelotonia, an Ohio nonprofit organization that hosts a three-day bike tour staged to raise funds for cancer research, and/or riders in Pelotonia. Looker did not donate the proceeds of that yard sale as promised.
In October 2017, Looker represented that 100% of all proceeds from sales of homemade cookies would go to the Dave VanWassenhove Memorial Scholarship at St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus. In this instance, too, Looker did not donate the proceeds from those cookie sales as promised. The Dave VanWassenhove Memorial Scholarship is a need-based scholarship available to African American students from the greater Linden area attending DeSales.
The investigation stemmed from a pair of public complaints made in August 2018 and April 2019.
Suspected charitable fraud should be reported to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov