Patrol: Group not raising funds for dead trooper, officer

Monday, September 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An out-of-state group is wrong when it claims to be raising money for the family of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who was killed in a fiery collision last month, the patrol said Sunday.

A state trooper received a telephone call from a representative of the Florida-based American Association of State Troopers who claimed to be raising money from pledges and donations for state troopers across the country.

Lt. Chris West, a spokesman for the patrol, said the group apparently is using the recent deaths of trooper Matthew Scott Evans, 24, and Oklahoma City police officer Jeffery Dean Rominger, 42, to get donations.

"People do these things right after a death of an officer. They play off the sympathy of the public," West said.

The group said it would give contributions to families of any trooper slain in Oklahoma, but West said that is wrong.

No Oklahoma trooper belongs to the organization and no Oklahoma trooper will receive any money, he said.

The same organization made similar calls in Oklahoma after trooper David W. "Rocky" Eales was killed in September 1999 while serving an arrest warrant in Sallisaw.

The organization, based in Tallahassee, Fla., could not be reached for comment.

Last year, Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed a lawsuit to stop the company from soliciting in Oklahoma.

The company's solicitation practices violate Oklahoma law and deceive donors by making them think money stays in the state, Edmondson said.

Association President Harrell C. Griffin of Cordova, Tenn., last year denied any wrongdoing. Griffin, who retired after 33 years in the Tennessee Highway Patrol, still is president, according to the association's Web page.

The group last year had about 50 members in Oklahoma who receive benefits, he said. Nationally, the association last year raised $7 million, with $5.5 million going to its fund-raiser.

Oklahoma City police said they were unaware of anyone receiving telephone solicitations for Rominger's family.

"The Oklahoma City Police Department does not actively solicit funds," said Lt. Barry Clark, a police spokesman. "If anyone receives a phone call from an organization claiming to represent the department, they should not give out any information and report the call immediately to the police department."