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News, Santa Monica, Police Department

Santa Monica Police Arrest Three Men In Charity Scam On Third Street Promenade

Rodney Muhammad, 56, of Compton.
SMPD
Rodney Muhammad, 56, of Compton.
Derek Haskins, 53, of Los Angeles.
SMPD
Derek Haskins, 53, of Los Angeles.
Jerry White, 53, of Santa Monica.
SMPD
Jerry White, 53, of Santa Monica.

Posted Nov. 29, 2012, 12:52 am

Brenton Garen / Editor-in-Chief

Three men aged in their 50s who allegedly posed as charitable solicitors on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade have been arrested and charged for being involved in a charity scam.

The trio were arrested Monday, Nov. 26 following a joint investigation between the Santa Monica Police Department and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit.

The men were arrested after they were observed displaying false credentials and soliciting patrons for cash donations for organizations such as the AIDS Health Foundation and Another Chance Ministry.

The suspects are identified as 56-year-old Rodney Muhammad of Compton, 53-year-old Derek Haskins of Los Angeles, and 53-year-old Jerry White of Santa Monica.

SMPD Sgt. Richard Lewis said the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit filed a criminal complaint against the three defendants, charging each of them with theft by false pretenses, identity theft, false advertising, forgery of a government seal, and aggressive panhandling.

Lewis said the defendants were arraigned Wednesday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court LAX Division on the above charges. A pretrial conference has been scheduled for Jan. 8, 2013.

The Santa Monica Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office urges caution when making charitable donations.

“Consumers should take the time to research any charity before making a donation,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. “Don’t make a donation on the street without first calling the organization and verifying that the solicitor is legitimate. You should also check online to make sure the organization itself is legit.”

This investigation is ongoing and any consumers who have given money to these individuals or have additional information should contact the City Attorney’s Consumer Affairs Specialist Paula Rockenstein at 310.458.8364 or Santa Monica Police Detective Robert D’Andrea at 310.458.2201 ext. 6679.

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call WeTip at 1.800.78.CRIME (1.800.78.27463), or submit the tip online at www.wetip.com.

Authorities released the following tips for charitable giving:

1. Call the charity directly and make sure the solicitor is legitimate.

2. Find out what percentage of donations actually goes to the cause, as opposed to administration and paying the solicitors. (By law, charities are required to disclose this information).

3. When solicited for charity, learn about the organization, its activities and fundraising practices.

4. Ask for written information.

5. Watch out for copycat scams. Some questionable organizations use names that closely resemble those of well-established charitable organizations.

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Comments

Nov. 29, 2012, 1:18:56 am

Michael said...

Really! About time! These clowns have been stealing for a long time. I walk my daughter on 3rd St. regularly and severl times informed the "ambassadors" and bike patrol to no avail. The ambassadors were more concerned about my daughter feeding pigeons than the tourists being ripped off. I used to go right up to the person being solitcited and told them it was scam.

Nov. 29, 2012, 2:49:51 am

Susan said...

I wouldn't give anything to solicitors. Mail your check to a carefully researched charity. I work in a Santa Monica shop and a "solicitor" came in, unlocked the charity box marked for a bible school she had been collecting money for, and paid for her personal shopping. I asked her about where the bible school was and she had no answer. Good local charities include the Westside Food Bank. Just an idea...why doesn't the Mirror do an article on local charities listing the % of donations that go to management and what the charity does?

Nov. 29, 2012, 2:51:42 am

James said...

The police in Santa Monica are only interested in collecting a paycheck. I approached three officers on Third Street when I was threatened with physical violence. They said I was over reacting and did nothing when I pointed out the perp. There happened to be hundreds of children there waiting for a book signing. Michael's comment below is spot on,.. I see the S.M. police ride their bikes on third street every day. Which is against the law. Oh,. and they love to park in the red. Most all the charities on 3rd street are way to aggressive.,.. even compared to the panhandlers. S.M. Police needs to be more concerned about people being hit in the crosswalks. I have personally seen more people including myself hit in a crosswalk. Where are the cops then? On third street d*cking around.

Nov. 30, 2012, 4:39:36 pm

Jordon said...

Never give money to people on the Promenade. They're all crooks. Mail your check directly to the charity you wish to support. "A fool and his money soon part."

Dec. 2, 2012, 3:08:44 am

Joe said...

To you stupid police officers in Santa Monica who do nothing but hit on the girls as you walk down the promenade: EVERYONE who lives in Santa Monica has known these people are a scam for a decade, yet you did nothing about it...even making citizens who complain to you about it seem as if they had a problem. What took you so long? Were you to busy shopping at Forever 21 in uniform as I saw last week? Were you to busy getting your free coffee? Were you too busy hanging out with the SM Firemen who also have nothing to do so they hit on girls on the promenade. Were you too busy bothering citizens and writing tickets for minor traffic violations on Main Street? You cops in SM are WORTHLESS. I have no respect for you and that is your fault and your fault alone...like you care anyway...go spike your paycheck with overtime on the promenade to fatten your pension you arrogant POS'

Dec. 2, 2012, 3:48:35 pm

Mike A. Angel said...

It is truly amazing how quickly people are to lash out at police and fire personnel, especially while sitting in the comfort and safety of their own home. It is not surprising that those same people would use this incident as a venue to vent their discontent for those who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect the citizens of Santa Monica. Sounds to me like someone got a ticket and aren't too happy with their situation so they insult Santa Monica public safety. It is these same individuals that run to trouble while you run away, then blog about it the next day. The next time you need help "Joe", don't bother calling, I'm sure you can handle it tough guy...

Dec. 3, 2012, 4:03:34 am

Joe said...

Hey Michael- Just because I am forced to call the police or fire department (something I have never had to do by the way), doesn't mean I can't see them for what they are. You guys do very little in this city other than bother the law abiding citizens or hit on women since you have so much free time on your hands. I am sick of walking down Main Street and seeing motorcycle cops writing tickets for minor violations. In fact that fat asian motorcycle cop is the worst. I actually saw him lecturing an older couple from NYC while writing a ticket for jaywalking. They finally told him to shut up and write the ticket so they could leave. How long have those idiots been on the promenade? Everyone knew they were fake charity collectors but you guys just stroll down the promenade drinking your free coffee, hitting on women, shop at the stores in uniform, and do absolutely nothing else. More than a decade to bust that ill looking trio? You're pathetic. Go spike your pension and shut up.

Dec. 3, 2012, 4:11:22 am

Joe said...

Another thing Mike Angel. Like the other mike posting here, I too used to personally confront those "charity" collectors and inform people giving money to them they were a scam. Not all the time, but enough. I learned a long time ago if you want something done in Santa Monica you have to do it yourself. Don't bother calling the police. You don't want to take them away from their paid leisure stroll on the promenade. Risking their lives? In Santa Monica? Is their free coffee going to spill on them and burn them to death? That's about the only risk they face in Santa Monica. The PD here is a freaking joke and have earned my lack of respect simply because they are so focused on bothering the residents yet do NOTHING to solve quality of life issues they actually have control over.

Dec. 6, 2012, 12:52:20 pm

Jess said...

For mike and joe,,, Regardless of the comments everyone is making, I think we are all glad and relieved that these idiots are off the community. The old guy with the same Mickey Mouse tie everyday is the worst. Yes these morons were there for years, but ask yourselves, what did YOU do to actually get them out of there? Yelling to the public that its a scam is only temporary as I have done that too but that is not effective. Instead of using this as an excuse for an opportunity to attack the police or fire dept, you should have invested that energy and have contacted the city or the organization/charities these roaches claimed to volunteer for. It's easy to attack the authorities and find a scapegoat but you don't know what they attempted to do about it. i doubt they too, enjoyed the presence of these idiots. But it's easier said than done. Regardless, I'm glad I won't see these pests in this city, and hopefully they won't be found anywhere else.

Dec. 9, 2012, 6:13:46 am

Wictor said...

Amendment 8 - Cruel and Unusual Punishment Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Jun. 5, 2013, 2:50:27 pm

margha said...

It was only take afew month now these people back in third street again we report to police but they dont do nothing.they cheated all age even teenagers .how shame smpd , I asked one police guy they known those people are scam and also post singn for not allow for aggressive solicit in the street but they don't even issue ticket.

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