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Veterans Charity Accused Of Scamming Donors, Keeping Cash

Rusty Weiss Contributor
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The Long Road Home Project was an organization designed to help returning veterans heal war wounds through the power of cross-country cycling.  Two years after initiating their first ride, however, the organization has disbanded, tens of thousands of dollars are unaccounted for and some are accusing the man behind the project of having broken the law.

Casey Miller, along with five other participants, set out on a long-distance bike ride from Seattle, Wash. to Washington, D.C. The five others were veterans riding for various causes, all seeking to heal wounds caused by, or developed during, their service to our country.

Miller, the man behind the project, is not a veteran.

A press release for the Long Road Home Project shows that Miller was seeking to raise $75,000 for the bike ride “to cover food, lodging, and filming related expenses for their trip.” Any amount over that would go to another veteran’s fundraiser called Operation First Response.

The fundraiser was clearly a success — the Long Road Home Project raised over $100,000. But what happened with that money next is unclear.

A significant portion of the money raised for the Long Road Home Project was to be used for a documentary film about the riders’ experience. The film was to be a “comprehensive” account that would “document the healing power long-distance cycling has on the human spirit.”

Two years later, the most comprehensive film produced is a 3-minute clip on the internet. Miller refused multiple requests to view the finished product or to simply verify the existence of the documentary.

Javier Colon, Miller’s partner at the onset of the project told The Daily Caller: “The documentary film was never created, the filmmaker quit at the beginning of the trip.”

Aside from being unable to account for the money slated for a film that was never created, it is unclear what happened to the funds intended for Operation First Response, a nonprofit serving wounded veterans with personal and financial needs.

Peggy Baker, president of Operation First Response, claims the amount earmarked for her organization kept changing. After pressuring Miller for his financial reports on multiple occasions, he finally cut her a check for $5,000 — well below what he had promised.

“When the ride was over he went from this really nice guy to somebody else,” Baker explained. “He said ‘I don’t think you worked hard enough, you didn’t do your part.’”

Baker provided TheDC with a detailed list of what Operation First Response did for Miller and his group, including setting up interviews, plotting out meetings with other veteran organizations along the route and an extensive social media campaign.

Baker alleges that Miller at one point inflated his numbers in an attempt to excite and encourage further donations, something she found “unprofessional and deceitful.”

Colon added that Miller “lied to raise funds in the name of ‘helping veterans’ and pocketed the majority of money he raised.”

John Keith, the man responsible for making the connection between Miller and Operation First Response, was rather blunt with his assessment.

“He is a thief and a liar,” he told TheDC. “The only reason he gave her the $5,000 was because I reported him to the FBI.”

Keith said he contacted the FBI office in Seattle, and reported Miller for “interstate fraud and stealing.”

In an online post, Keith warned that Miller was “using disabled vets.” He also claimed that riders had meals withheld by Miller during the trip — they were promised three per day but received only one or two. Other firsthand reports from riders indicate Miller made expensive purchases along the way, despite struggling to provide food for the participants. Keith said that Air Force Staff Sgt. Colleen Bushnell told him that Miller purchased a Rolex and an expensive new bike for the trip, among other “selfish things.”

Money wasn’t the only thing stolen, according to Colon — the entire concept was his from the onset.

“I wrote The Long Road Home Project and dedicated 6 months of my life to it. I based it on my own recovery from a serious car crash that nearly took both my legs,” Colon said. “The power of the bicycle is what healed me and I wanted to share this with our veterans.”

He added that Miller “hijacked the project before we got our first sponsors.”

While initially agreeing to talk, Miller did not respond to TheDC’s multiple requests for comment.

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Rusty Weiss