While Americans donated an estimated $1.5 billion to charities established to serve the victims and families affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an investigation by The Associated Press discovered that many of those non-profits have spent huge sums for purposes that clearly aren't charitable.
Although the news agency acknowledged that a majority of the 325 9/11 charities have played by the rules, a handful are unable to account for the money they've received and have not filed required income tax returns. However, many of these organizations continue to collect donations.
According to the AP, one Arizona-based charity raised more than $700,000 for a 9/11 memorial quilt that it said would be as large as 25 football fields. However, years later, the charity only has a few hundred decorated sheets packed in boxes and tax records show that one-third of the raised money went to the charity's founder and relatives.
The founder reportedly gave himself a $200 a week car allowance, rent reimbursement and $45,000 for an unknown loan.
Two Manhattan charities have also allegedly used donated money for personal expenses. One charity aimed at constructing a 9/11 Garden of Forgiveness at the World Trade Center has raised $200,000 -- but the garden doesn't exist. The Episcopal priest running the charity reportedly paid himself a $126,530 salary and used more than $3,500 for dining expenses between 2005 and 2008.
The other, called Urban Life Ministries, raised more than $4 million to help victims and first responders, but only accounted for $670,000 on its tax forms, according to the source.
While these are extreme cases, the AP reports that an analysis of tax documents and other records found that almost every kind of 9/11 nonprofit was, beset with shady dealings, questionable expenses and dubious intentions.