Police nab second suspect of charity scheme

By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

CRANSTON – Cranston Police arrested a second man accused of scamming a well-known non-profit out of hundreds of dollars.

Matthew Murphy, 30, turned himself in Sunday. Police say he and Alan Ponte, 46, pretended to be volunteers with the Gloria Gemma Foundation at Saint Mary’s Feast on July 18 and pocketed more than $200.

A local breast cancer survivor and Gloria Gemma volunteer told ABC6 News she took cell phone video and pictures of the suspects, who had set up a table with signs, pamphlets, and items like key chains for sale. She became suspicious after noticing there was no woman helping them out at the table, when the foundation requires at least one woman to be there.

She said the men were spreading incorrect information about breast cancer, even falsely demonstrating how to check for lumps and told her to do the same in front of them.

She decided to remain anonymous but wants people to know just how damaging this scheme was – not financially, but emotionally. “They were trying to capitalize on a disease that is deadly. It's emotionally stressful to families and the people going through it,” she explained.

“It's less about the money and more about they were giving out incorrect information on breast cancer and breast health,” explained Carol Donnelly of the Gloria Gemma Foundation.

The only time Gloria Gemma volunteers ever ask for donations is at their annual Flames of Hope fundraiser.

Murphy and Ponte are due to appear in court again next month.

© WLNE-TV 2015