Saturday, December 17, 2016

$20,000,000 "Wreaths Across America" scam made by for-profit Worcester Wreath Co, Morrill Worcester, Karen Worcester

Wreaths Across America, scam, fraud, charity, Worcester Wreath Co, Morrill Worcester, Karen Worcester, Maine, wreaths, sell, donate, 20-8362270, remember, honor, teach, non profit, for profit, business, 
UPDATE: 12/19/16: I got a call today from Memorial Day Flowers Foundation. I decided to see if Memorial Day Flowers is like Wreaths Across America. They haven't filed any 990's so I can't tell. As he owns a flower business I assume his foundation only buys his flowers. I do see that they also promote flowers for kids. He offers free flower "education" to kids so they can learn to appreciate i.e. desire and buy them. The guy made a video which he posted on YouTube. Before I even got to the video I thought this sounds like someone using free "education" to market, sell his product just like Wreaths Across America. Sure enough, it is. He flat out even states this in his video in the caption! Here's the frame. I didn't add that caption. He did. "Marketing Disguised as Education." This is something that you, wink wink, whisper behind closed doors. It's not something you post on the public internet connected to your name and business name. Now all the teachers, parents, public will know that the true goal is not education but free marketing for his flower selling business. How do these people live with themselves to want to use kids, schools just to market their products? Now he can post videos of him "educating" children about floral care so he can get good press.



12/18/16 Wreaths Across America has been reported for diversion of assets to the IRS.

________________________

This is the first time I've heard about "Wreaths Across America" day where a non-profit places Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans with the help of free volunteers. Sounds like a nice sentiment even though we already have Veterans Day, Memorial day where we place things on Veterans graves. My relatives are veterans. My grandfather died in WWII.

I did some research and this appears to be a money making business for Worcester Wreath Co founded by Morrill Worcester in Maine. In 2015 they took in $8,000,000 selling wreaths to their own non-profit. They charge more than what other wreath companies would charge. They now use cheap migrant labor instead of locals. They have violations for illegal clear cutting of acres of trees. What's even worse is that they get volunteer truck drivers, wreath placers to deliver and place the wreaths on the graves! When they sell the wreaths to regular people they have to pay to ship them. They also get hundreds of thousands of dollars of free publicity and media because people think they are a charity that helps Veterans at Christmas. People think Morrill Worcester and his wife Karen donate the wreaths. They don't. Donald Trump would call this "Great! Smart!" This is like selling yellow snow to dead Eskimos. I bet the cemetery is the one that has to clean up all the wreaths and trash.

"The non-profit organization Wreaths Across America was started by a for-profit company that makes and sells wreaths, and 74 percent of every dollar Wreaths Across America spent went to this same for-profit wreath making company. A for-profit family owned company that has family members on the board of Wreaths Across America."

Morrill Worcester used his political contacts to make "Wreaths Across America" day. "December 13, 2008 was unanimously voted by the US Congress as “Wreaths Across America Day." Imagine getting a politician to create a day just for your company to make millions of dollars. Here is that bill by Senator Susie Collins. I sent her an email about the scam.

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/sres726/text

They say you can also buy, I mean donate and a wreath can be sent to a living person. That is not a donation as you are getting something in return. I don't think that's legal. Look at their Q&A. One question is "why spend money on dead veterans when living veterans need so much?" Watch them say why giving dead tree branches to a dead veteran is better than helping a live veteran.

They say you can even sell the wreaths on days other than WAA day. These people have no shame. They offer a reseller program. These people are ONLY about making money doing so in the name of veterans. 

My grandpa and other relatives are buried at military cemeteries. I will contact them and make sure no WAA is ever placed on their graves.  This company uses dead veterans to make money. 

http://www.cityofventura.net/files/file/meetings/parks_and_recreation_commission/2012/05-16-12/Agenda%20Item%208%20WAA%20Reference%20Guide.pdf

I then found quite a few articles about the scam and how it works. This is a good article.

http://www.moneytalksnews.com/should-you-donate-wreaths-across-america-lesson-charitable-giving/

Snopes says WAA is a real company that donates wreaths for veteran graves. What is wrong with Snopes lately? It's like scammers are paying them for false reviews. Wall Street Journal saw through this scam. I sent Snopes proof that the company makes millions off this WAA day created by politician friends of owner of private company. The article is still there.

From Wall Street Journal 75 to 80% of Worcester Wreath income is from Wreaths Across America. The Worcesters say that they recuse themselves when the board votes on the wreath supplier. In the meantime other wreath companies have sent bids that are $1-$2 less per wreath and they've been denied. Per the WSJ,

"Worcester now charges the charity $8.50 a wreath, which after costs leaves $1.20 in profit, according to Rob Worcester, a son of Morrill and Karen. This year, the company sold 876,000 wreaths to the charity, suggesting a profit of $1.05 million. Worcester donated 25,000 additional wreaths, a deductible loss of about $183,000."

"Federal and state regulators “examine closely the details of those sorts of deals because there’s a huge potential for essentially the charity allowing its assets to be diverted to private use,” said Mr. Owens. If the deal benefits the related company to the detriment of the charity, the charity could lose its tax-exempt status, he said."

As there were cheaper bids this does appear to be diversion.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/wreaths-across-america-has-family-ties-to-its-supplier-1450740374

Wreaths Across America, scam, fraud, charity, Worcester Wreath Co, Morrill Worcester, Karen Worcester, Maine, wreaths, sell, donate, 20-8362270, remember, honor, teach, non profit, for profit, business, 
https://www.guidestar.org/ViewPdf.aspx?PdfSource=0&ein=20-8362270

Wife of owner of company is the director. Rene Worcester, Sarah Worcester also on the board.

Karen Worcester, Executive Director
karen@wreathsacrossamerica.org
207 -470-0964 tel

Here is their 2013 tax return. In 2013 the non-profit gave the for-profit $4,865,805.


Their site says "When you donate to WAA your money goes to a wreath first, and we operate on the small margin remaining after purchasing and placing that wreath." This makes it very obvious that most of the money goes directly to the for-profit business Worcester Wreaths. Here is their nice graphic. This graphic is the Worcester Wreath company bragging about how much money they made in this scam.

Wreaths Across America, scam, fraud, charity, Worcester Wreath Co, Morrill Worcester, Karen Worcester, Maine, wreaths, sell, donate, 20-8362270, remember, honor, teach, non profit, for profit, business, 

Below is 2014. Worcester Wreaths received over $6,000,000 from their non-profit Wreaths Across America.
Wreaths Across America, scam, fraud, charity, Worcester Wreath Co, Morrill Worcester, Karen Worcester, Maine, wreaths, sell, donate, 20-8362270, remember, honor, teach, non profit, for profit, business, 

Wreaths Across America made $23,000,000 from 2010 to 2015. Based on the 86.5% above going directly to Worcester Wreaths that means Morrill, Karen Worcester made $20,000,000 off this scam in six years alone! 

Wreaths Across America, scam, fraud, charity, Worcester Wreath Co, Morrill Worcester, Karen Worcester, Maine, wreaths, sell, donate, 20-8362270, remember, honor, teach, non profit, for profit, business, 

I would bet that in 1992 when Morrill Worcester gave the first 5,000 surplus wreaths to the cemetery that he took a huge tax deduction for the donation. Giving items or money to a government cemetery is considered a donation. 

A for-profit wreath company invents "Wreaths Across America day" and starts non-profit "Wreaths Across America." The day is the third Saturday of December which landed on my birthday today. They get Veterans groups, Christmas lovers to donate money to basically buy wreaths from them which they get volunteer truck drivers to deliver and volunteers to dump them on Veterans' graves for free positive publicity, advertising.

While the business has noted the conflict with the non-profit nobody bothers to research or read that information. They only see the feel good story, veterans, Christmas. This is obviously a $20,000,000 money making scam. I think I will start "Real Estate Appraisals Across America" day. True, dead veterans don't need a real estate appraisal but they also don't need a Christmas wreath. See, it's not about the appraisal (sarcasm). It's about honoring the veteran. I will say their name as I lay an invisible .pdf copy of an appraisal on their grave. It will teach people to honor veterans. Remember, honor, teach. Children will learn a great lesson. Please, PayPal me a donation today so you too can honor a dead Veteran with a lovely, festive Christmas appraisal, also good for Valentine's day, Cinco de Mayo and National Squirrel day.

#wreathsacrossamerica #worcesterwreath #karenworcester #morrillworcester #scam #fraud #christmas #wreath #veterans #graves #headstones

Worcester Wreath has an interesting history. They got stuck with extra inventory which they funneled through Wreaths Across America. L.L. Bean stated they had “very large” environmental fines that had been assessed to Worcester. They also had some ethical issues. In 2008 90% of Worcest Wreath business $6.7 million came from L.L. Bean.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/02/23/news/down-east/worcester-wreath-awarded-nearly-1m-in-lawsuit-against-l-l-bean/

In 2013 Worcester said 30% of its income was from Wreaths Across America.

EcoHealth reports that they not only illegally clear cut trees using an "agriculture" loophole but they had migrant housing placed on some of the land to attract poor migrant farmers instead of using US workers. http://ecohearth.com/eco-blogs/leave-the-trail-behind/1142-is-your-holiday-wreath-ecologically-sound

"Unfortunately, Worcester Wreath's environmental track record is not as laudable as their service to veterans. In an attempt to consolidate their control over the wreath-making industry, Worcester has clear-cut thousands of acres of forest in eastern Maine to make way for “brush agriculture.” Because they claimed that growing fir trees for wreaths is agriculture, they were able to sidestep most limitations on the size of clear-cuts. Fortunately, they miscalculated the size of the loophole they hid behind and have been slammed with fines of almost $200,000 by the Maine Forest Service—the largest fines ever levied for forestry violations within the state. Part of the fine was for improperly placing migrant labor housing. Apparently, part of the company's plan is to hire low-wage migrant workers rather than local residents, who have been doing the work for generations."

"The Worcester companies have incurred $95,000 in fines for violations of Maine tree harvesting regulations. Worcester Peat Co. Inc. is in the peat harvesting business. According to the Maine secretary of state, the shareholders for that company are Morrill Worcester, his wife, Karen, and (daughter) Pamela Slaven, all of Columbia Falls. Morrill Worcester is named as the manager of Worcester Holdings, LLC. It is described as a property land holdings company in the 2008 annual report of the Maine secretary of state."

http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1509329/state_fines_worcester_wreath_affiliates/

"The consent order also resolves the following violations of laws administered by the DEP:

. Failing to obtain permits for construction of a warehouse and worker housing.

. Failing to properly construct and maintain ponds and other structures at the Denny Heath peat mining site.

. Discharging of peat and other sediment into McCoy Brook and the Narraguagus River.

. Disturbing a stream channel, discharging soil into a stream, improperly replacing culverts with rocks and placing fill material in a wetland.

. Failing to renew air emissions license before its expiration.

. Use of wood bottom ash in the construction of a road without a license."

Worcester Wreaths is now Worcester Resources.

Here are a few of their lawsuits

The 1988 lawsuit is labor dept v his concrete company. The 2012 lawsuit is due to a business loan he took for an unprofitable bio chip energy company that went under. The 2010 case is a trademark case. Whitney Originals sued Morrill Worcester and won.

1 Worcester, Morrill (dft) nysdce 1:2012-cv-00590 190 01/24/2012 10/01/2012
2 WORCESTER, MORRILL (dft) medce 1:1988-cv-00034 790 02/11/1988 05/13/1988
3 WORCESTER, MORRILL R (pla) medce 1:2010-cv-00478 840 11/22/2010 05/25/2012
4 WORCESTER, MORRILL R (dft) medce 1:2000-cv-00252 830 12/08/2000 02/28/2002
5 WORCESTER, MORRILL (dft) medce 1:1988-cv-00202 790 08/31/1988 09/07/1988
6 WORCESTER, MORRILL R (cc) medce 1:2000-cv-00252 830 12/08/2000 02/28/2002

Whitney Wreaths ended up getting the L.L. Bean wreath business.

http://www.mainebiz.biz/article/20101015/NEWS01/310159997/whitney-wreath-opens-new-facility

Here is some information about WAA, Worcester Wreath Co, Worcester Holdings, Worcester Cement, Worcester Peat Moss, Worcester energy... They are all owned by Morrill Robert Worcester, his wife Karen Dow Worcester, their daughter Pamela Worcester Slaven. Morrill's father was Wilbur Mariner Worcester 1906 - 1992. That links you to his mother.

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