Report: Sparta Pair's Sandy Fund Runs Afoul of State Regulations
Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation not registered with state or IRS, Asbury Park Press reports
A superstorm Sandy relief organization run by a Sparta couple has collected nearly $1 million in donations despite not being registered as a charity, the Asbury Park Press reports.
The Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation, operated by John Sandberg and Christina Terraccino of Sparta, also uses the name of a charity legally registered by first lady Mary Pat Christie to solicit funds and is not a tax-exempt organization, although it claims to be, the paper reports.
Sandberg and Terraccino defended the relief foundation, acknowledging that while there may have been missteps in the creation of the organization, neither had any ill intent.
The report notes that the pair could be fined thousands of dollars for collecting money while not being registered as a charity and risk trouble with the IRS for wrongly touting itself as a tax-exempt organization.
“Technically they are not allowed to fund raise in New Jersey,” said Melanie Swift, director of nonprofit services at CharityNet USA.
The report also suggests it is illegal for the pair to use the name Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund on its website's donor page, as Christie incorporated her charity and registered with the state under that name. Sandberg said he had a right to it because he registered it as a domain name when setting up the relief foundation.
Terraccino said the pair were still sorting through the appropriate regulations relating to charities. "There's not really a concrete way or list of things to do in order to start a charity,” she told the APP. "We are doing our best to keep up with all the rules and regulations."
"We’ve done nothing but help people," Sandberg told the newspaper.