Wednesday, April 4, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Illinois senator calls out Attorney General Lisa Madigan re: her stalled Save-A-Life Foundation investigation, tags former IL mayor & CDC exec in Atlanta who were key players at the tainted nonprofit

Is the Illinois Attorney General pretending to investigate the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF)?

That's the question posed in a December blog item by "Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter" on a mystery site called called Illinois Pay to Play. It's a mystery to me anyway. (Hey, Hugo, if you're reading this, could you send me a copy of your driver's license? Okay, I'll settle for a library card.)

Regardless of Hugo's bona fides, Illinois State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), who spent three decades working in law enforcement, has raised more or less the same question in an acerbic letter he recently sent to IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

IL Sen.Tim Bivins (R-Dixon)

First, some quick catch-up.

Via Possible Charity Scam by Sophia Beausoleil, WCIA-TV News, Champaign-Urbana, IL, October 20, 2010:
Save a Life Foundation was a Chicago based non-profit that would teach children all over the state and country emergency rescue techniques...A representative for the Attorney General's office said they are looking into the organization's charitable contributions and assets.
Click here for the correspondence between SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri and the Attorney General's Office that triggered the investigation.

Don't miss Spizzirri's unusual June 11, 2010 letter to Assistant Attorney General Barry Goldberg accompanied by a weird attached "Cyber Sabotage Activities" report in which I and others are named as "co-conspirators."

Apparently that's what you're called if you ask questions about what happened to the reported $8.6 million federal and state tax dollars awarded to Spizzirri's organization

If that's so, according to this recent article, the latest "co-conspirators" are Sen. Bivins and Gery Chico, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education:
Save-A-Life Foundation is one of a couple organizations Bivins is looking at...The former Lee County sheriff wants investigations and audits of these groups, he said.
Chico agreed.

"I think if there's probable cause for wrongdoing, especially if it involves public money, there ought to be an investigation, sure," Chico said.
I think Hugo would also agree.

Gery Chico receives SALF award from Carol Spizzirri (photo from SALF's 2003 Annual Corporate report)

I don't know if Chico has taken any action, but here's the letter Sen. Bivins sent. For a copy of the original, click here or page down.

Note: I've added links to the names of the four Save-A-Life Foundation principals that lead to more information about them. Quick FYI, Douglas R. Browne is an executive at the US Centers for Disease Control here in Atlanta; John Donleavy is the former president of VELCO, one of Vermont's largest energy companies.

January 18, 2012

Lisa Madigan
IL Attorney General
500 South Second Street
Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Attorney General Madigan,

I'm writing you in regard to your office's investigation of the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), an investigation which reportedly has been underway for about 18 months.

When I recently phoned your office to inquire about the status of the case, your legislative aide Kareem Kenyatta told me the investigation was open but only because they couldn't locate Carol J. Spizzirri, SALF's founder and president.

Frankly, I was stunned. Having served over three decades in law enforcement, I couldn't imagine anyone working for me making such a feeble excuse.

To prove the point, shortly after that conversation, I located the following information on the Internet in about 30 seconds:
1930 W. San Marcos Blvd #285
San Marcos, CA 92078
Less than an hour later, the San Diego County Assessor confirmed that the property was purchased on August 7, 2006 by Spizzirri and Scott Anderson, a former SALF Treasurer and Corporate Director.

Mr. Kenyatta didn't indicate whether your investigators had attempted to contact these other members of SALF's most recent Corporate Board, but here's their contact information as well, all of which was quickly obtained by searching Google:
858 N. Virginia Lake Ct.
Palatine, IL 60074

2851 Evans Woods Dr.
Doraville, GA 30340

325 3rd Street South
Naples FL 34102
Incidentally, according to her Facebook page, Spizzirri spent this Christmas with Mullins, who served as mayor of Palatine for 20 years.

Reportedly SALF received almost $9 million taxpayer dollars to provide first aid training to children, "many of them from the Chicago Public Schools," according to Spizzirri. But in response to a federal court subpoena and FOIAs, the Chicago Schools and other school districts where SALF claimed to have trained many thousands of students have been unable to locate any training records.

Spizzirri and her organization have a history of other serious misrepresentations.

For example, SALF's fund raising materials represented Spizzirri as a Registered Nurse with a specialty in renal transplants who possessed a four-year degree from a college in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. SALF also claimed Spizzirri's motivation for founding the organization was triggered by the death of her teenage daughter who supposedly bled to death following a hit and run accident, a story repeated ad infinitum over the 16-year existence of the corporation.

Since 2006 a growing body of media reports in Illinois and around the country has proved all those claims to be false. Further, last year a San Diego newspaper reported that Spizzirri is a twice convicted adult shoplifter whose daughter took out a protective order against her based on allegations of extreme physical abuse.

Last month Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico told the Executive Appointments Committee (on which I serve) that SALF falsely claimed he and his wife were members of the organization's board. According to a recent New York newspaper article, the Health Commissioner of Westchester County, NY, says SALF also falsely claimed she was a board member.

Given such overwhelming evidence, it's questionable whether the Save-A-Life Foundation ever told the truth about anything.

Undoubtedly you agree that we have a duty to assure the public that the millions in public and private dollars SALF obtained weren't misappropriated. I realize that by law you're not permitted to discuss the details of an ongoing investigation, however, based on my conversation with Mr. Kenyatta, I'd appreciate some indication from you how seriously your office is pursuing these matters.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to your reply.


Tim Bivins
State Senator 45th District

SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri (right) spends Xmas 2011 at the Palatine, IL home of her SALF colleague, Rita Mullins (left) 
Rita Mullins (seated) & Carol J. Spizzirri (next to Santa Claus)