Former Virginia resident facing fraud charges
RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A man who used to live in Virginia is facing charges in connection with a charity he created that he claimed provided services and support to homeless veterans.
According to a release, 45-year-old James W. Arehart of Myrtle Beach lived in Virginia and worked as a full-time government contractor in 2018.
In April of that year, he registered a 501(c)(3) organization called Providing Hope VA with the Internal Revenue Service.
He also registered the entity in South Carolina as a charitable organization, later creating a social media and online presence for it.
The indictment claims Arehart described Providing Hope as a charity with a “direct mission” to help homeless and destitute veterans by creating the Providing Hope Center, a freestanding facility that would offer housing, job training and other support services to veterans.
Providing Hope reportedly used the advertisement and sale of raffle tickets for high-end vehicles to raise money that would go toward the creation of this facility.
The release says Arehart would allegedly buy such vehicles and then raffle them off in livestreamed videos on Facebook.
Between 2018 and August 2021, Arehart’s raffle sales reportedly resulted in proceeds exceeding $9 million, all of which went into and through Providing Hope’s bank account, which Arehart controlled completely on his own.
Additionally, Arehart was Providing Hope’s president and only board member throughout this period.
In seeking donations from the public, Arehart allegedly made several and repeated false statements to promote Providing Hope.
These included alleged misrepresentations of Arehart’s compensation and salary from the nonprofit, misrepresentations of the nonprofit’s purportedly segregated and growing fund to build the center that apparently did not even exist in any form, and misrepresentations about the tax-deductible nature of the raffle ticket purchases.
Arehart is also accused of using the charity’s funds for his own benefit several times, including paying veterinary care bills, and miscategorizing expenditures in Providing Hope’s 2019 tax filing with the IRS.
He is also accused of making false statements to federal agents that were consistent with his false claims concerning the nonprofit.
Arehart is facing charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to federal agents.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.