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State to sue Forks animal shelter over alleged charity fraud

July 30th, 2014 - 5:43am

(Olympia) -ó A Forks resident who raised 300-thousand dollars for a non-profit dog rescue organization has been sued by the Attorney Generalís Office for violating Washingtonís Charitable Solicitations Act and Consumer Protection Act.

Stephen C. Markwell, founder of Olympic Animal Sanctuary, is accused of unlawfully soliciting and collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations while not being registered as a charity with the Secretary of State.

According to the Attorney Generalís complaint, filed Tuesday in Clallam County Superior Court, Markwell also failed to maintain records of how the charitable donations were spent.

Markwell registered Olympic Animal Sanctuary as a federal, tax-exempt non-profit organization in 2007.

However, his operation was not registered in Washington as required by law, until April 2013, when he was contacted by the Secretary of State.

During the six-year interim, his organization reported more than 300-thousand dollars in revenue generated from public donations.

As of December 2013, Markwell no longer operates the Olympic Animal Sanctuary and has surrendered the dogs to a shelter in Arizona.

The Attorney Generalís action does not address allegations of animal abuse or neglect as those issues do not fall within the Consumer Protection Act or Charitable Solicitation Act.

Organizations that fundraise in the state of Washington for charitable purposes are required to register with the Secretary of State's Charities Program.

The AG's office says consumers with concerns specifically about Olympic Animal Sanctuary and Markwell can contact Clallam County Animal Control at 417-2459, or the Forks Police Department at 374-2223.

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