NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
KENNEDALE — Just two days after a News 8 investigation was broadcast, the organizer of the United States Fallen Heroes Foundation has resigned.
The foundation has no idea how much money may be missing, but it still hopes to build a monument in Kennedale to servicemen and women who have died in combat since 9/11.
Walter Coleman said the United States Fallen Heroes Foundation was a non-profit agency — but it wasn't.
Coleman used two names, and he represented himself as a veteran when he is not.
"I think it's sick that someone would essentially try to fraudulently raise money in the name of men and women who have given their lives for their country," said State Rep. Chris Turner (D-Kennedale).
The Fallen Heroes Memorial would have been located in Turner's district. He said the organization will have to change to move forward.
"There would have to be utter transparency, and they would have to comply with the best practices of non-profits," Turner said.
As of Wednesday night, Larry Summers is the foundation's new chairman. A former Marine, he pledges changes in the Fallen Heroes board and practices.
"The foundation will be restructured as it should have been day one," Summers said. "This is how it's going."
One of the first tasks will be to revamp the foundation's Web site, which is still asking for money sent to Walter Coleman's home.
Talks must be held with sponsors, such as Schlotzsky's, which have collected money for the memorial.
Walter Coleman told some people he collected millions of dollars; he told others that just thousands came in.
The Texas attorney general is investigating.
"I hope the attorney general is able to determine how much money was raised from how many people, and maybe we can get a true account of what has taken place," Turner said.
The Fallen Heroes Foundation has a contract for about 15 acres of land to construct the monument. City Manager Bob Hart will put the matter before the Kennedale City Council next month so they can decide whether to continue the contract or possibly revoke it.
The City of Kennedale already has a modest monument to its own fallen heroes. It's now up to the attorney general, the new organizers and the City Council whether the Fallen Heroes Foundation will fly again.