Following reports of shady business practices, the Putnam County Deputy Sheriff’s Association recently stopped working with companies that help raise funds through phone calls — but officials say the calls have continued.
Chief Deputy Eric Hayzlett said the association, of which he’s a member, used similar fundraising companies when he joined the department almost 20 years ago, quit for a few years because of problems but started again.
In the last couple weeks, the association decided to split with a company called Centurion, but Hayzlett said a Winfield business got two calls Wednesday: one requesting money for the sheriff’s department and another requesting money for the St. Albans Fraternal Order of Police. The caller erroneously said the sheriff’s department had given the Fraternal Order of Police a solicitation list.
Hayzlett said the company, which the Gazette was unable to contact Wednesday, earns commission off donations. He said there have been complaints every year.
“They call people outside the area that the donations are for. They tell people things that aren’t truthful,” Hayzlett said. “You know it’s a profit-driven business, so the more money they collect the more money they make, and they’ll do just about anything.”
Deputy Daniel Redka, president of the association, said the association told Centurion it wouldn’t further their contract but the company has continued to invoke the department and association to raise money. He said that’s why the sheriff’s department sent out a press release Wednesday, saying the department and association no longer do phone solicitations for any community outreach program.
Residents and businesses are urged to not make any donations to people calling on their behalf, and to report such calls at 304-586-0256.
The calls were fundraising for the Shop With a Deputy event, in which deputies take underprivileged children and their families holiday shopping. Hayzlett said the calls have helped the event serve as many as 100 kids annually.
“We hope to do it this year, but we’re not going to solicit money on the telephone with it and it may be a much smaller event,” he said.
To donate, make out checks to the Putnam County Deputy Sheriff’s Association at P.O. Box 416 Winfield, WV 25213, or drop them off at the department, 236 Courthouse Drive Suite 8, Winfield, WV 25213.