Employee of Fundraising Business Sentenced for Stealing Contributions Intended for Fraternal Orders of Police

Over 2,000 Businesses Donated More Than $2 Million That Were Never Provided to the FOPs

June 18, 2010

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced Gary W. Toroni, age 56, of Baltimore, today to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of wire fraud. Toroni had been convicted at trial on March 18, 2010.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to trial testimony, Nicholas Baccala owned and operated Amera-Funding, a business formed to raise money for Fraternal Orders of Police (FOPs) in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area. Toroni was a long-time friend of Baccala, and worked for Amera Funding from 2000 to 2005.

Amera Funding split the contributions with the FOPs during regular meetings which were referred to as “bank-outs.” The bank-outs were conducted by Toroni or Baccala, and a representative of the respective FOP. At the bank-outs, Amera Funding was required to give 100% of the donations to the FOP, and a form titled "Financial Disclosure Statement" was filled out. The form listed the total contributions collected on behalf of the FOP since the last bank-out, and the corresponding 70/30 split. The form also listed the total collected for that year's campaign, as well as the 70/30 breakdown for the year. At the bank-out, the FOP kept the contribution checks and wrote a check to Amera Funding representing 70% of the total.

Toroni’s responsibilities included placing solicitation calls and conducting bank-outs. Beginning in 2002, Baccala began spending time in Nevada, and eventually moved there. Thereafter, in addition to the responsibilities mentioned above, Toroni also supervised the telephone solicitors, paid the bills of the business including the salaries, assisted with the daily deposits of contribution checks and conducted the bank-outs.

In November 2002, Toroni and Baccala opened a business account at Mercantile Bank, in the name “Friends of Police.” The account was named Friends of Police to more easily be able to deposit checks that were made out to the various FOPs. This account became Amera Funding’s primary business account. Immediately upon opening the account at Mercantile, Toroni and Baccala used the account to steal the contributions that were intended for the FOPs.

Once the Mercantile account was in use, the vast majority of the contributions were diverted from the bank-outs, and were instead deposited into the Mercantile account. Baccala called from Nevada to Toroni and others in the business in Maryland to learn the amount collected each day. During these daily telephone calls, Baccala directed Toroni and others to deposit the contributions collected by Amera Funding into the Mercantile account. In order to conceal the diversion of contributions, Baccala occasionally directed Toroni to take a small portion of the contributions and conduct a bank-out with a particular FOP. During the bank-outs, Toroni falsely represented to the FOPs that the bank-out represented all of the funds that had been collected since the previous bank-out. In reality, the sum of money that Toroni was giving to the FOP was a small percentage, less than half, of what the business had collected on behalf of the FOPs. At the conclusion of the bank-outs, the FOPs would give Amera Funding’s 70% share to Toroni. Toroni was aware of the total contributions collected for each FOP, and he was aware that the bank-outs misrepresented the true amount of the contributions.

Baccala and Toroni directed Amera Funding employees to place calls to prospective donor businesses, representing that their contributions would be given to the local FOPs, knowing that virtually all of the donors’ contributions would not be given to the FOPs. Over the course of the scheme, more than 2,000 such businesses contributed donations that were never provided or disclosed to the FOPs.

From November 2002 until the end of 2005, over $2 million was deposited into the Mercantile account. The majority of this money was from contribution checks intended for FOPs that they never received. These funds were not included in the bank-outs, and the FOPs were not told that Amera Funding had collected these funds on their behalf.

Baccala directed Toroni to use money deposited in the Mercantile account to pay the bills of the business, as well as to pay employee salaries, including Toroni’s salary. From November 2002 until the end of 2005, Baccala took over $600,000 from the Mercantile account for his personal benefit.
In addition to the Mercantile account, Toroni set up a separate bank account without Baccala’s knowledge, and stole an additional $253,000 of donor contributions between 2003 and 2005.

Nicholas Baccala, age 51, formerly of Towson, Maryland, pleaded guilty to his leadership role in the scheme and was ultimately sentenced to 33 months in prison.

William Madonna, age 58, of Perry Hall, Maryland, who was employed at Amera-Funding from 2003 to 2005, pleaded guilty on June 4, 2010 to structuring $142,000 in currency transactions to avoid bank reporting requirements. Madonna faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison at his sentencing for September 2, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and Sandra Wilkinson, who prosecuted the case.


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