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continued to raise funds and accept charitable contributions even after they knew their nonprofit status had been revoked.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

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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not a jp fanPatrick SullivanLubbyfor the love of ChristJeff Cox Recent comment authors
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Eager Reader
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Eager Reader

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.

Misterc John
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Misterc John

another great job reporting jp.

Marianne Thompson
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Marianne Thompson

Wow.

ML
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ML

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.

Nathan Goughnour
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Nathan Goughnour

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… Read more »