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
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.
The case against Stryker was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection
Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.