By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento-based charity is firing back after the California Attorney General announced the state is suing them for deception.

After Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced a lawsuit alleging deceptive and misleading solicitations by the charity leaders, dozens of volunteers assembled care packages to be sent out to U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sal Russo is a founder of the Move America Forward and is one of the leaders named in the complaint.

“The Attorney General is totally off base on this, and Move America Forward has been a fantastic charity,” Russo said.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit claims the charity used pictures and quotes of veterans without permission, misled donors about political affiliations. The court documents also include language that Russo and others have used the charity to ‘skim,’ ‘squeeze money,’ and ‘get a cut of the action,’ by paying themselves for management fees, commissions, and expense reimbursements through other for-profit companies.

READ MORE: California Sues Sacramento-Based Charity That Sends Food, Clothes To Troops

Russo told CBS13 the allegations are “outrageous.”

“You know, we spent the first three or four years, I paid for everything myself, and the deal I made with our founders, was ‘Look, I’ll pay for it for a while, then you have to pay me for the work that I’m doing,'” Russo said.

Russo says he has faced audits and explained the payments to the Attorney General’s office for the past five years, and he was shocked to see Attorney General Xavier Becerra announce the lawsuit without notice in a press conference.

“The directors of Move America Forward mismanaged the charity,” Becerra said.

A charity sending care packages to U.S. troops overseas. Now being sued by their own state.

Russo says Move America Forward has not been served with the lawsuit yet. No court date is set.


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