A Tonganoxie-based charity that was the focus of a Journal-World investigation has “been dissolved in all states” and is no longer in operation, said Andrew Gruber, director of the Purple Heart Veterans Foundation.
In a September Journal-World article, Gruber said he planned to dissolve the nonprofit after the group settled a trademark infringement lawsuit with the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court after several Journal-World articles highlighted some irregularities with the group’s fundraising and financial information, as only 11 cents of every dollar donated to the group reached military veterans. In addition, Gruber spent time in a Kansas prison for felony theft, which could have been grounds for the Kansas Attorney General’s Office to seek a legal injunction stopping the group from soliciting funds in the state. Gruber’s group had been fundraising in front of several Lawrence stores, as well as stores in several other states.
Gruber started another nonprofit in 2010, Kids vs. Cancer, which is run by his brother, Steven Gruber. Andrew said that group had been dissolved as well, though that organization still has a website.
However, Steven started another nonprofit in August — Kids vs. Cancer of America — that is registered with the Texas Secretary of State. Steven said that neither of his brothers is involved in the new organization.
Andrew had contracted the fundraising for the Purple Heart Veterans Foundation with the business of another brother, Scott Gruber, who runs Independent Promotions, a fund-raising business in Indianapolis. A spokeswoman for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office said Independent Promotions is still listed as having an active campaign for the Purple Heart Veterans Foundation. However, Andrew said it’s simply a time lag in filing the paperwork and that no one has solicited for the Purple Heart Veterans Foundation since late August.
The group’s charitable organization registration with the state of Kansas expired at the end of June. Andrew said the nonprofit had about $1,200 left once they stopped operating, and that money had been donated to the Marine Corps League in Topeka.