Mark Gelvan

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Lack of regulation and meager penalties allow worst charities to thrive

Officially, Gelvan has nothing to do with Community Support or Outreach Calling.

But he has been a puppet master behind the scenes of both companies for nearly a decade. By acting as a broker and consultant, Gelvan operates outside regulators’ view.

He dropped out of sight in 2004 after New York’s attorney general banned his telemarketing company from raising money in that state.

Just as Gelvan’s company came under scrutiny, his 71-year-old father-in-law, a longtime home health aide, launched Community Support.

Gelvan arranged contracts between many of his old charity clients and his father-in-law’s company.

Then, when regulators went after Community Support, Gelvan started moving charity clients to Outreach Calling, a newly formed solicitor started by an associate.

Damian Muziani, the owner of Outreach Calling, is an aspiring actor and a telemarketer who had done business with Gelvan years prior.

With Gelvan steering clients there, Outreach Calling became a multimillion-dollar operation in its first three years.

Muziani, who said he is the sole shareholder of Outreach Calling, lives in an apartment above a New Jersey liquor store next to one of his company’s offices, a store clerk said. According to his website, Muziani was once a contestant on NBC’s dating show Average Joe, and he played a fugitive in an episode of America’s Most Wanted.

Gelvan, who owns a $2.6 million gated home less than an hour outside Manhattan, said he has no ownership interest in Outreach Calling or Community Support. Over the years, he said, he has advised many charity operators looking for a telemarketer. He said he often gave them a list of several options.

But three charity operators said that Gelvan was their primary contact when dealing with Outreach Calling and that he gave them the impression he owned the company. All three said they had never heard of Muziani or had met him only once.

Jacqueline Gray, president of Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation in Lauderdale Lakes, showed reporters a document from 2010. It was signed by Gelvan on Community Support letterhead. She said Gelvan also handled her transfer from Community Support to Outreach and gave her a tour of its phone room in New Jersey.

In addition, New York’s attorney general stated that “Outreach Calling is run by Mark Gelvan” in a 2011 complaint filed against one of the telemarketer’s clients. New York officials declined to provide additional information.

Gelvan calls himself a “service provider to the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.”

His company acts as a one-stop shop for fledgling charities, creating their marketing materials, lining them up with telemarketers, even arranging startup funding when necessary. In return, the company gets exclusive rights to direct their fundraising and gets a cut of every donation.

Gelvan timeline

1989: Mark Gelvan launches All-Pro Telemarketing Associates in New Jersey.

1993-96: State and federal regulators bring three cases against Gelvan and All-Pro, claiming his employees pretended to be affiliated with the state police and lied to donors about whether they had given previously. He does not admit wrongdoing.

2002: New York’s attorney general sues Gelvan and All-Pro, alleging they fraudulently collected more than $5 million in charitable donations.

April 2, 2003: Gelvan’s father-in-law, a 71-year-old home health nurse, incorporates a new telemarketer, Community Support Inc., with Thomas Berkenbush. Many of Gelvan’s charity clients sign contracts with the newly formed company.

January 2004: As part of a settlement agreement with the New York attorney general, Gelvan is banned from raising money for charity in that state. He does not admit wrongdoing.

May 2009: Charity regulators in more than 30 states reach a settlement agreement with Community Support after accusing its employees of lying to donors during fundraising calls. Berkenbush does not admit wrongdoing but agrees to a $200,000 fine and other sanctions state officials believe will shut down Community Support. Gelvan is not scrutinized.

September 2009: Outreach Calling, a new telemarketing company, incorporates in Nevada. The president listed in documents is a small-time actor and telemarketer who had previously done business with Gelvan. Gelvan begins transferring charity clients.

Today: Outreach Calling has worked with one-third of the charities that previously did business with Community Support. It has grown to a more than $3-million-a-year operation.

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