- Firefighters National Trust
- President: Mr. Stephen J. Careaga
- Secretary and Lawyer: David Martin Otto
- Filing Date: August 6th 2001
As chance would have it, Firefighters National Trust, of Gig Harbor Wa, was the only online site accepting donations for firefighters' families that was up and running at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Through a quick partnership with Yahoo, firehouse.com, and other high traffic web sites that gave the site massive exposure, firedonations.org suddenly found itself getting as many as 1,000 hits per second from concerned people worldwide looking to help.
Firefighters National Trust was a non-profit charity that was set up by Stephen Careaga a volunteer firefighter. When the attacks on 9/11 hit, the online charity grossed over $11 million dollars. Careaga was using this new acquired money to support large salaries, extravagant perks, and fund other companies so that extra money could be tied to a legimitate expense. In doing this Careaga denied the vitctims in which the donations were inteded to be foretrying to make a living selling computer software to Firehouses, in which he used Firefighters National Trust to open doors for him.
Patrick Joseph Lochrie would later partner with Stephen Careaga in Reality Wireless.
Otto would be enjoined by the SEC.
Otto appears later on as an associate of Andrew Badolato via GeoBio Energy. Otto had the title 'Vice President of Finance and General Counsel' whilst Badolato had 'Vice President of Corporate Finance and Director.' Badolato is closely associated with Steve Bannon, Donald Trumps chief of staff.
Other directors of Freehand Systems include, Theodore L. Schroeder:
He founded NetOctave, a Raleigh, NC-based developer sold in 2003 to Fort Lauderdale, Fl. based CyberGuard. a company linked to Gov. Rick Scott and corruption in Florida. A Cyberguard partner Ensec was involed in the security of the World trade Centre
Article about Firefighters National Trust[edit | edit source]
A Charity Fails Families Of Fallen Firefighters After 9/11 September 7, 2008
On a mild day in late November 2001, Stephen Careaga stood under the brick façade of a storied New York fire station, an unlikely benefactor from the Pacific Northwest who traveled to Manhattan with a cashier's check for nearly $4 million.
Three miles downtown, workers were still recovering the bodies of firefighters entombed in the twisted wreckage of the World Trade Center, and the New York Fire Department's hastily assembled funeral desk was scheduling the last few dozen memorials for the 343 firefighters killed on 9/11.
Careaga, a one-time volunteer firefighter and reserve police officer, had been trying to make money selling computer software to rural fire departments in Washington state. To get a foot in the door, he created a tiny nonprofit called FireDonations, with a website that would-be customers could use to collect online donations for fallen firefighters.
That was in August 2001.
A month later, when jumbo jets plowed into the World Trade Center towers and hundreds of firefighters trudged up the stairs to their deaths, Fire-Donations was the only fire-services charity on the Internet equipped to take online contributions for the cause.
Boosted by links on Yahoo and other national websites, money poured in from around the globe, peaking at a rate of $250,000 an hour. The nonprofit, hastily registered with the IRS and renamed Firefighters National Trust, collected $4 million in a week's time, and $6 million by the end of September.
In all, donors contributed $11 million to Firefighters National Trust, which promised that the money would go "directly to the spouses and children of the New York Firefighters and Rescue workers who lost their lives in the World Trade Center tragedy."
But after that high-profile trip to New York, and a follow-up check for about $400,000, the largesse from Careaga's charity came to an abrupt halt. Millions promised in scholarships were never distributed. More than $1.6 million went to money-losing ad campaigns. Celebrity endorsement deals lost money, too.
The donations also evaporated in six-figure salaries for Careaga and an associate, hundreds of thousands in legal fees to a board member's law firm, and thousands more to the software company Careaga created.
By the time Firefighters National Trust shut down in 2005, after less than four years, more than $1 million ended up in the hands of key employees and their companies, tax filings show.
In the charity's final act, Careaga transferred the $2 million still in the bank to a psychologist in Greenwich who had set up a nonprofit counseling service after a federal fraud case cut off his access to lucrative Medicare reimbursements.
Careaga initially said he helped develop a counseling program, a post-traumatic stress program and scholarship programs, though he later acknowledged that LifeMatters has no scholarship program.
In its early promotional material, Firefighters National Trust said it was created partly out of frustration that many firefighter charities spend far too much on fundraising and administration. They pledged that overhead would never exceed 10 percent.
With charitable spending falling to pennies on the dollars while fundraising and administrative costs soared, board members decided it was time to pull the plug.
"Our charter was to take the money and spend it charitably, rather than spend it on us trying to learn how to run a charity," Eller said. "After a certain amount of time, the board was pretty much behind: You know, it would be better if we would just not continue.
"Whether we wasted more money than we needed to along the way, boy, that's a hard one to know."
Lonski[edit | edit source]
NY Post - October 05, 2008
The Port Authority needs its head examined for hiring a team of shrinks with a history of alleged Medicare fraud, shady finances and conflicts of interest to monitor hardhat behavior at Ground Zero. Life Matters, a nonprofit run by psychologists Michael and Evelyn Lonski, was handed a one-year, $300,000 no-bid contract several weeks ago to identify and treat problems among workers rebuilding the 16-acre World Trade Center site.
The feds accused Michael Lonski of defrauding Medicare while treating elderly residents of adult homes in the 1990s through his now-defunct L&L Psychological Services.
Lonski agreed to pay back $4 million without admitting guilt and was banned from participating in all federal health programs for five years. He has since been reinstated.
By the beginning of 2005, the fundraising was over and Careaga made plans to shut down the charity and transfer all remaining funds — more than $1.9 million — to Life Matters, a Greenwich charity run by husband-and-wife psychologists Michael W Lonski and Evelyn Llewellyn that provided psychological counseling to firefighters.But the money flowed both ways.