"They were falsely representing themselves as with the American
Red Cross to solicit donations," Burbank Police spokesman Sgt. Jay
Police recovered just less than $500 from the three when they were
taken into custody, Jette said, adding that the trio may have been at
the Empire Center four or five days prior to their arrests.
An officer with the department's retail crime detail was
suspicious of how the three were conducting themselves, which made
her think they were not with the Red Cross, Jette said.
Lee, 44, and Nicholas, 22, were each being held in lieu of
$100,000 bail in the Burbank city jail on suspicion of false
representation in soliciting charitable donations, Jette said.
The teen was released to the custody of her parents and will be
petitioned to juvenile court, Jette said.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles was anticipating filing
charges on Monday against Lee and Nicholas Friday for impersonating
Red Cross officials, office spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
An incident of this sort compounds the tragedy of the hurricane
and its destructive aftermath on New Orleans and other cities, said
H.T. Linke, spokesman for the American Red Cross of Greater Los
"You have people in need and good people giving generously and we
don't want them to think their money went to a fraudulent use," Linke
It was only the second incident he was aware of in which police
arrested someone posing as a Red Cross worker to solicit donations,
Legitimate American Red Cross workers generally will not solicit
for donations on street corners or in front of businesses and will
offer a receipt to people who donate, Linke said.
At this time, the Los Angeles Red Cross and the national Red Cross
are not seeking hurricane relief donations by phone, Linke said.
"If anyone gets a phone solicitation, there's a good chance it's
bogus," Linke said.
Anyone who believes they may have contributed money to the fake
solicitors can contact Det. Matt Ferguson at (818) 238-3277.