Santa Monica: Three men charged in charity scam on promenade
The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office has charged three men for allegedly posing as charitable solicitors on the Third Street Promenade.
After a joint investigation by the Santa Monica Police Department and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office Consumer Protection Unit, police arrested suspects Rodney Muhammad, 56, of Compton; Derek Haskins, 53, of Los Angeles; and Jerry White, 53, of Santa Monica, Sgt. Richard Lewis said.
The three men were observed allegedly displaying false credentials and soliciting patrons on the promenade for cash donations for organizations such as the AIDS Health Foundation and Another Chance Ministry on Nov. 26, Lewis said.
The city attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit has filed a criminal complaint against the three men, charging each of them with theft by false pretenses, identity theft, false advertising, forgery of a government seal and aggressive panhandling, Lewis said.
The defendants were arraigned in the Superior Court Airport Courthouse Nov. 28 and a pretrial hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 8.
The Santa Monica Police Department and City Attorney’s Office advise residents and visitors to use caution when making charitable donations.
“Consumers should take the time to research any charity before making a donation,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. “Don’t make a donation on the street without first calling the organization and verifying that the solicitor is legitimate. You should also check online to make sure the organization itself is legit.”
This investigation is ongoing and anyone who believes they may have given money to the defendants are asked to contact the City Attorney’s Consumer Affairs Specialist, Paula Rockenstein, at (310) 458-8364 or Santa Monica police Det. Robert D’Andrea at (310) 458-2201 ext. 6679.