20 March 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A Castaic man who set up more than a thousand bogus charities with names very similar to nationally recognized charities was sentenced today to 51 months in federal prison for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars that victims thought were going to legitimate philanthropies.
Kent Ray Stryker, 61, formerly of Van Nuys and Eagle Rock, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins. In addition to the prison term, Judge Collins ordered Stryker to pay a $10,000 fine.
Last October, a federal jury in Los Angeles found Stryker guilty of 12 counts of mail fraud. The convictions stemmed from Stryker’s scheme in which he convinced victims to give his fake charities donations of cash and vehicles.
Stryker obtained numerous fictitious business names (FBNs) that sounded like legitimate charities. For example, the American Cancer Society is a nationally recognized organization that has been fighting cancer for nearly 60 years. Stryker obtained FBNs with names such as National Cancer Society, Cancer Society and National Cancer Association. He then obtained more than 1,100 toll-free, 1-800 phone numbers for the bogus entities. Donors from all over the country wanting to contribute to the American Cancer Society would call the toll-free directory assistance and sometimes, either through operator error or because the donor did not know the true name of the charity, they would be directed to one of Stryker’s 1-800 numbers. Stryker directed his telemarketers to conceal from donors that they were being instructed to send their money to a mail drops in Glendale and Washington, DC. If a suspicious donor asked questions about the purported charity, Stryker instructed telemarketers to explain that the bogus charity was an umbrella organization or was somehow related to or affiliated with the legitimate philanthropy. In some cases, the telemarketers told donors that the bogus charity focused on prevention of a disease while the legitimate charity focused on treating the disease.
During Stryker’s trial, a series of victims testified that they sought out a nationally recognized charity after a relative or associate had been affected by a disease such as cancer. They believed that their donations would be used for research to find a cure for the disease. Instead, the donations to Stryker’s “charities” were used for Stryker’s personal benefit.
One of the telemarketers, Patrick Ralph Kretschmer, who used the alias “Doug White,” was convicted at trial along with Stryker. The jury convicted him of 10 counts of mail fraud. Kretschemer, 63, of Eagle Rock, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6.