Attorney general: Gulf War memorial founder used donations for himself

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on August 31, 2010 at 8:57 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 31 at 11:29 PM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

The stated goal was to make 15 acres in Kennedale hallowed ground for every American who died in the Gulf since Operation Desert Storm.

But now, the Texas attorney general is saying the U.S. Fallen Heroes Foundation was never what its founder said it was.

The AG charges that the organization's founder fabricated IRS documents and violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

News 8 learned that Walter Coleman — who used his Mansfield home as the office of the foundation — used two names, Evan Coleman and Walter Coleman.

"I'm both," he explained. "I'm Walter Raleigh Evan Coleman Jr."

He signed documents with both names. Why? "It depends on the documents," he said.

Attorney General Greg Abbott charges that Walter Evan Coleman used money donated to the Fallen Heroes Foundation to pay his mortgage, meals and utilities, and that he withdrew the foundation's money for his own use from ATMs.

It is also alleged that Coleman set up collection jars labeled "Fallen Heroes Foundation" around Texas without accounting for the funds that were collected.

Coleman allegedly misrepresented himself — not just to donors, but also to his bank and to the city of Kennedale, which offered to sell him land for the memorial.

The state wants Coleman to pay penalties of $20,000 for each violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Abbott said the new chairman of the Fallen Heroes Foundation is not involved with any wrongdoing and has cooperated fully with the state's investigation.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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