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July 08, 2015

Tenn. Investigates Nonprofit Linked to 'Sham' Cancer Groups

The Tennessee secretary of state's office is investigating a Knoxville cancer organization with family ties to four charities accused by regulators nationwide of bilking donors of $187 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The American Association for Cancer Support is led by Jula Connatser, whose husband is a former stepson of James Reynolds Sr., the central figure in the fraud case brought in May by the Federal Trade Commission, all 50 states, and the District of Columbia.

Ms. Connatser is president of the association, which was founded in 2011 and says it provides supplies to cancer patients in the United States and abroad. She and her spouse, Lance Connatser, formerly worked for Mr. Reynolds's charities, which the FTC and state regulators allege were sham groups operated for the benefit of family and friends.

Ms. Connatser said she and her husband left the Reynolds network because they didn't "feel comfortable" with its spending. She told the Journal that she no longer speaks with her former father-in-law and that FTC investigators decided not to include her charity in the lawsuit after interviewing her and reviewing financial statements. "They know where the money and everything came from," she said.