HomeLaw EnforcementFalse Promises: The Possible Grift of a LE Non-Profit?

False Promises: The Possible Grift of a LE Non-Profit?

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Grifted; grifts (transitive verb): to obtain (money or property) illicitly (as in a confidence game); money obtained dishonestly (as in a swindle).

Following my retirement from law enforcement, I began to be approached by other retired cops, some from my former agency, some not, about what I perceived to be get-rich-quick schemes that capitalized on my former career.  You see, I was fortunate to have spent the last 12 years of my police career as a member of my agency’s Computer Crimes Unit.  We investigated “high-tech and computer-related crimes, as well as doing digital forensic examinations of electronic devices.”  Our Unit did everything from collecting evidence from suspect computers and phones to cracking passwords and tracking people down via the Internet and Dark Web.  I spent my final four years on an FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force, which investigated primarily hacking, intrusions, and Internet-related fraud schemes.  I didn’t take any of those shady job offers after I retired from law enforcement, instead opting to pursue a career in digital forensics and investigations with one of the country’s largest financial institutions, trying to protect people’s money, assets and investments from both internal and external fraud. 

This is probably why, last week, a number of of my former LE coworkers contacted me about a new organization that had recently emerged, associated with a former Scottsdale police officer who recently retired as a Lieutenant.  They also directed me to the organization’s website, azpoa.org.  The Arizona Police Officers Association has the following mission statement on their website:

“The primary mission of the Arizona Police Officers Association is to foster collaboration between police officers and the communities they serve.” We directly assist police officers by providing equipment and training that is not covered by their department’s budget. Our goal is to provide our officers with the best tools possible in order to provide safe and effective crime prevention.”

Later on the site’s homepage, it says, “That’s why I founded the Arizona Police Officers Association . . . Our goal is to fill that critical need by collaborating with the community, raising funds to provide the types of support our officers require to do their jobs effectively, and continuing my passion for public service.”

The “I” in the last quote is Lieutenant E.J. Echiverri, who recently retired.  I’ll tell you more about him later. 

The website is a typical WordPress or other template-based website.  When I looked further into the website, I discovered that it was hosted by GoDaddy, which is one of the most popular hosting companies in the United States and is also based in Scottsdale, Arizona.  What I found odd was that the site’s registrant information was purposefully hidden by using a GoDaddy service called Domains by Proxy. 

This is not unusual in and of itself.  Many websites conceal the identity of the registrant. Often it is just used to protect a site’s host from fraud, doxing or swatting.  What is unusual is that Non-Profits, on average, do not.  You need transparency if you want people to donate money to the entity.  I’ve worked on several websites for non-profit organizations.  I always make certain that the domain points to a specific registrant.

Even stranger, the organization is wrapped in an LLC, registered in Arizona, and in good standing. They have a physical address that returns to a Summit Consulting Group, which appears to be a Phoenix-based business that specializes in  “full service public affairs firm that provides management consulting services to political campaigns, public relations and corporate clients.” This is not some personal website or sole proprietorship where one would have to use their home address and telephone number.

Going deeper, it says right below where you can donate, which appears to be fully operational non-profit organization:

Note, “The Arizona Police Officers Association is a 501(c)(5) charity.” Please consult with your tax preparer about tax-deductible eligibility,” at the bottom of the call to action donation boxes.

But is it a valid non-profit? I don’t know because the IRS has no record of it.

Is it possible that the organization has applied for non-profit status but it has not yet been approved?  Possible.  But you don’t put up an active donation portal prior to getting approval, which this website appears to have via a service called Piryx.  This could create a whole bunch of IRS headaches for those donating, including legal ramifications.    

Moving along, when you look up the “Board of Advisors” and go to that page on the website, I got more concerns about the entire organization.  Echiverri’s is the only real name on the site.  The others raise some questions.  Looking at the names, Sergeant Williamson, who is not in the picture below (which I’ll explain), appeared to be familiar to me. 

Reading Williamson’s bio, I knew exactly who it was because I worked with him and he’s not the type of guy who would be involved with a sketchy website/organization like this.  As a result, I had some people still at the PD contact him.  Here’s what I got in return.

When I returned to the site the next day, Williamson’s name had been removed, and Deputy Sloup had taken his place.  I’ll get to him in a minute. 

Because the LE community is small, I began researching some of the other names. 

Deputy Durazo isn’t even a deputy.  He was never.  Durazo’s name is Rigo Durazo, and he runs a business in Arizona called Tacflow Academy. 

I have a number of military/tactical training friends.  The first person I contacted knew him and contacted him.  This is what I was told:

Lieutenant Miller has also been identified as a Valley police officer.  I don’t know him and couldn’t find any information about his involvement with this organization, so I won’t comment. 

I heard Williamson got involved to ensure his likeness was removed, and then, magically, “Deputy Sloup” took his place.  It’s funny because I hadn’t heard that name in years.  The previous weekend, a couple of former coworkers texted me with “get a load of this shit,” messages and a link to a YouTube playlist.  I commented on the YouTube content here, but let me go into a little detail.

Frank Sloup worked for Scottsdale Police Department for about a year before being “separated” from the department for an “integrity violation.”  He was not fired, but allow me to explain how things work.  During an IA investigation, let’s say you are caught lying.  Agencies are notorious for playing the carrot-and-stick game in order to get you to quit.  You are told that you can resign quietly, and that the agency will not file paperwork with AZPOST to revoke your certification.  However, if you attempt to fight a termination, they will.  Most people who want and need to work in law enforcement moving forward resign quietly.  One issue is that the next agency they apply with is usually unaware that the person they are going to hire had issues and should not be working in the profession.  Sloup experienced this twice.  After Scottsdale, he was “removed” from MSCO.  He was placed on the Brady List as a result of this second issue, as I explained in the previous post

I’m not the only person to point this out. This YouTuber goes over his whole history.

Now, I’m not sure if he is a member of this organization or if his name was simply placed on the site without his knowledge, as it was with the other two.  In either case, it’s shady shit.

What about the position of “EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR | FOUNDER”?  Just reading the “Executive Directors Message” gives the impression that EJ adores EJ, which he does.  While his lengthy account of his time at Scottsdale appears to be factually correct, there is some context missing that perfectly illustrates what I witnessed time and again at the department.  You can fail upward in spectacular fashion.    

“He served as both an Undercover Narcotics Detective in the Special Investigations Unit and a Person’s Crimes Detective in the department’s multidisciplinary Family Advocacy Center,” according to the statement.  True, but he was, effectively, demoted from both positions and reassigned to Patrol.  He was involved in an off-duty altercation in a Scottsdale bar, and when detained by MSCO, he thought it would be a good idea to give them his official undercover identity provided by the State of Arizona.  After his time back in Patrol, he was again moved to a specialty assignment, this time Person’s Crimes, and again demoted to Patrol because his cases were not being followed through on and failing to classify cases that could be worked with those with no leads or that were deemed unfounded. It was also around the same time Scottsdale PD got a bunch of negative press like this: Scottsdale PD Still Classifying a High Rate of Rapes as False or Baseless.  

Scottsdale still thought he was supervisor material and promoted him short time later, where he had a hit-or-miss reputation as a first-line supervisor.  He would later be moved to supervisor of a bike unit which has flexible work hours and less oversight than a Patrol unit. Here, he had one significant issue which involved time sheets and charged overtime.  The Bike Unit’s co-supervisor suspected him of falsifying his OT numbers and brought it to the attention of leadership.  I don’t know the entire story, but the other supervisor was effectively demoted from his specialty unit, forcing him back to the Patrol.  As a result, he said “fuck this place,” and retired before he had planned on it.  So, when questions are raised about submitting inaccurate OT hours, what do you do, you promote that person to Lieutenant.  I’m not sure who EJ has compromising pictures of in the SPD leadership, but, you know, Failing Upward! Think, Carrie Candler!

I was already retired at this point, but a story about him surfaced just before his retirement that irritated me.  There was an allegation that he tried to keep money raised for a former coworker of ours, whom I’ve known since she was in high school.  It wasn’t until another retired officer got involved and went directly to Scottsdale PD leadership, that the money was eventually given to the family to help with medical bills. 

To be clear, I am not familiar with any of the financial issues, or the how much is rumor vs fact.  My general point is that before donating money to an organization, it may be important to know the person’s history of handling funds, especially donations and making good decisions, before donating.

Add to that the fact that the organization has listed a slew of people as being in charge of running it, half of whom had no idea their likeness was associated with it and at least one who has a history of questionable integrity, as evidenced by his inclusion on the Brady List.

If I didn’t know anything about the organization outside of what I see on the website, just looking at the it, how it is set up, how you can donate money, and how it claims to be a non-profit organization when the IRS has no record of such, if I was still a Fraud and/or Computer Crimes Detective, we would have probably opened an investigation.  We would have at the very least forwarded it to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for further investigation.

Could it be genuine and only a work in progress?  It’s possible because many business owners lack the technical expertise to build a working site in a production setting and then launch it live when it is finished.  Novice business owners who are not tech savvy frequently launch an unfinished website live, which at least partially appears to be the case here will a number of technical security issues that a simple open-source scan of the site shows, but I don’t even go down that rabbit hole.

If you are going to donate, just be careful.  If anyone has contact with the other two people listed on the site, please reach out and see if they legitimately involved, because if they are not and this turns out to be some type of grift, they could be in a world for possible civil and maybe even criminal issues.

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