District Attorney Confirms Criminal Investigation Into “Hero Program”

frontline-poison-free-hero-program

Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh has confirmed there is an ongoing criminal investigation into the “Hero Program” and its parent entity the “Frontline Initiative.”

District Attorney Berosh tells the Beaver Countian that the Pennsylvania State Police are investigating allegations made by donors that Hero Program Director Steven Wetzel and Frontline Initiative Director Brooks Canavasi may have solicited charitable donations under false pretenses and misappropriated funds earmarked for the care of terminally ill children.

Problems with the Hero Program and Frontline were first exposed in a series of reports by the Beaver Countian that followed a nearly year long investigation into the organizations by this publication (See: Investigative Report: IRS Revokes Hero Program’s Nonprofit Status, Hero Program’s Nonprofit Spun Core Initiatives Into For-profit Company).

The Internal Revenue Service revoked the nonprofit status of the Frontline Initiative (and the Hero Program along with it) after the public charities failed to file returns for three consecutive years. An investigation by the Beaver Countian showed that nonprofit initiatives of Frontline (including “Poison Free”) were eventually rolled into for-profit ventures operated by some of the same people.

The organizations continued to raise funds and accept charitable contributions even after they knew their nonprofit status had been revoked.

Following the Beaver Countian’s reports, the Hero Program released a one page summary Profit & Loss statement that they then pulled of off their website just days later. The Frontline Initiative promised to publish detailed financial statements in the first quarter of 2014, but those documents never materialized.

“No charges have been filed against any individuals yet,” District Attorney Berosh told the Beaver Countian, “I will be meeting with the State Police when their investigation is concluded to determine what charges may be appropriate.”

The Beaver Countian has reached out to Steven Wetzel and Brooks Canavasi for comment and will publish their reactions if we hear back.

 

14 comments

  1. Give it a week.  The Beaver County Times will have front page stories about this taking credit for it just like they did your tax stories.

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  2. another great job reporting jp.

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  3. Where there is smoke there is fire. Mr. Wetzel has been parading himself around Beaver County and social media having attended boxing matches, Pirate games in the World Series Suite, running 5K’s and boasting of his friendships with Neil Walker, Jim Krenn and others. Mr. Wetzel better enjoy the upcoming days because by the looks of things they are numbered. Pirate games are not as much fun when you are watching them from a penitentiary.

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  4. I hate to see charities that are supposed to be well-intentioned get screwed up by greedy people and the ones that are hurt the most are the children that this program was intended to help.

    As President of a major local annual special event, I had attempted in 2011 to feature the Hero Program and had a meeting with Steve in mid-summer to discuss the possibility since the goals of the program matched our event’s goals. We agreed to feature the program and immediately began promoting Steve’s participation. More than $100 was spent on promotional materials and another $100 was in the process of being spent.

    However, following the meeting, we attempted to contact Steve in regards to his organization’s participation and could not reach him for 3 months. Phone calls, e-mails, text and Facebook messages were sent to no avail. During this whole time, Steve was posting on the Hero Program’s page pictures of him at golf outings with politicians, with the terminally ill children and with local wealthy donors.

    Finally, I posted the entire 3-month saga of our attempts to reach Steve about featuring the Hero Program directly on their Facebook page. Almost instantly, I had a phone call from Steve threatening to sue me for slander. So instead of apologizing for costing my event money and for not reaching out to me, I got threatened with an attorney. Needless to say, we had a few very short weeks to rebuild and re-promote our event, but with the hard work of a great staff and a lot of local support, it happened.

    I feel bad for the children of the Hero Program and their families as the organization was well intentioned, but I DO NOT feel badly for Steve Wetzel. Steve is getting what he deserves. I found him to be arrogant and egotistical and only out for the “see me and who I am with” side of everything.

    Looking at the Hero Program’s Facebook page just now, I noticed nothing has been posted to the page in several months. Being a long-time Beaver County volunteer (since 1992), I have learned that INTEGRITY is paramount above all else and good CHARACTER is a must for the leaders of any non-profit.

    Well Steve, if you had shown come character before and worked well with me, then stayed on the strait and narrow, I could have helped grow awareness of the Hero Program just as I had promised. Now the program is dead and your name is ruined in Beaver County. What about the kids now Steve? What about the kids?

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  5. Please let me know what the hero program is. I’m sorry I never heard of it. I am on many autism websites as my grandson has it and anything that profits any children is worthwhile. This one sounds like a loser!

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  6. SpeakTheTruthToo

    This is the definition of scumbag. Nothing burns me more than someone who profits off of children’s misfortunes….especially terminally ill children. You should be run out of town Steven Wetzel.

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    • Run out of town? Your far to kind, I’m thinking a short drop and a sudden stop is more suitable for someone that exploits kids. The sad part is this will go to court and some asshole judge will allow a plea and this scum will get a slap on the wrist.

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  7. In case this don’t get published I’ll Stat it here.

    This publication is restoring my faith in uncut/non bias journalism.
    You people tackle some very serious issues and your research is impeccable.
    If the governments of the United States
    Weren’t so deeply corrupted from the Boro/City Levels, to highest State Levels, all the way through the Federal Level. This country Really would be One Nation Under God. I’m glad this young man is not being prosecuted for his open and public opinion.

    Thank you for telling the truth and exposing some of the core issues that are undermining the very fiber of our society as a whole.

    It all starts at the foundation.
    If it’s not justified on solid ground
    It will never stand the test of time.

    Thank You for all of your hard work and efforts

    Sincerely

    Jeffrey S. Cox
    A very Disheartened Ashamed, & Disappointed in the MACHINE called Government.

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  8. for the love of Christ

    This guy has been exploiting children and athletes his whole life, the duffie broke a championship steak, average at best baseball player who tells tall tales of personal career. He simply put was a friendof basketball player and he rebounded in the summer for him some how he got baseball job ( former girlfriend was football coach put word in) might have been issue with ummmmm enhancement substances? Then around same time he got let go the next coach got arrested in the football program for buying, selling and snorting drugs, yeah great freedom got the bottom of barrel that blackhawk didn’t want

    This clown , loves jockstraps , and the asses they support and will do anything to be around it

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  9. for the love of Christ

    Hey speaking of the TIMES wonder if they will write Christina was promoter of this and called in vendors and was in cahoots with his wedding party buddie?

    Ahhhhh the stories of those two at zookies and the representative! Opps sorry jim your married now, oppps favorite (wink wink) bartender is a staffer, she took dui for??????

    Real men wear grey at work whooooaaaa

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  10. **Real men wear grey at work?

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  11. I’m very proud of the in depth reporting on this so called “charity” I wish I would have seen the other articles before. Fantastic job Beaver Countian. You are the peoples hammer! Keep brining it! #truth

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