Millsboro American Legion Targeted by Alleged 9/11 Charity Scam - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Millsboro American Legion Targeted by Alleged 9/11 Charity Scam

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From left are Mark Niemczyk, 66, and Thomas Scalgione, 41, both of New Jersey. (Photo: WBOC) From left are Mark Niemczyk, 66, and Thomas Scalgione, 41, both of New Jersey. (Photo: WBOC)

MILLSBORO, Del.- For almost two years, a pair of men claiming to be father-and-son firefighters from New York traveled the country with their decorated pickup truck, collecting donations for victims of 9/11. One of their stops was the American Legion post in Millsboro. Officials are now saying it was all a scam.

Back in July of 2011, American Legion Post 28 was packed with hundreds of first responders and veterans from all across the state of Delaware. They thought it was part of a 9/11 charity event, but according to New Jersey officials, it was actually part of a massive scam targeting people all over the nation, and duping them out of tens of thousands of dollars. 

Mark Niemczyk, 66, and Thomas Scalgione, 41, both of New Jersey, traveled the country with their red pick-up truck, emblazoned with the names of police and firefighters who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. WBOC was there when it made a stop on Delmarva two summers ago as part of that journey, with the pair collecting donations people thought were going toward 9/11 victims. But according to the New Jersey Attorney General's office, the two men behind the "memorial on wheels" were nothing but con artists. Niemczyk and Scalgione have been charged with conspiracy and theft by deception for the alleged scam. 

"To be so vulnerable, and to accept that, and to contribute to it, and then it not being true is such a shame to the veterans or to anybody that's associated with that," said Larry McNeal, a veteran and regular at Post 28.

News of the scam has taken both him and his wife Debbie by surprise. 

"When people wanted to donate money and you find out that it's just a scam, it's sad. It's just sad," noted Debbie McNeal.

Indian River Volunteer Fire Company President Patrick Miller said his department helped the American Legion sponsor the event, and was stunned and disappointed by the alleged actions of Niemczyk and Scalgione.

"I was surprised, I was shocked, and I was saddened to hear that the proceeds that were generated for a needy cause did not go to that purpose," he explained.

Officials with American Legion Post 28 were unavailable for comment Tuesday. 

Scalgione and Niemczyk are said to have brought in approximately $50,000 in revenue, through donations and T-shirt sales while traveling to various public events with their truck. However, contrary to their promise to donate that money to charities and families of victims, not a dime was shared.

If convicted, Niemczyk and Scalgione could spend up to five years behind bars.

Anyone who may have fallen victim to this 9/11 charity scam is urged to come forward.

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