Heads of Collier County charity that honors slain cops arrested; founder charged with embezzlement
A husband-and-wife team steering a Naples-based non-profit organization formed to benefit the families of fallen police officers has been hit with felony criminal charges related to the charity.
On Tuesday, Rosemary Zore, President of the Robert L. Zore Foundation, was charged with embezzling from the non-profit she formed in 2018 and named for her father, a Miami-Dade police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 1983, when she was seven-years-old.
The state Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement (OALE) also charged Zore with failing to properly register the foundation with the state. Her husband, Michael Randall, faces a single felony charge of failing to register as a professional solicitor after he took a cut of the proceeds from donations he raised while serving as vice president for the charity, which is also known as Fallen Officers.
The OALE investigation was launched after inquiries about the charity from the Florida Center for Government Accountability and WGCU Public Media, which published a joint report in April revealing that Fallen Officers had not registered with the state as required by law and had failed to meet federal and state requirements for tax exempt status.
State investigators combing through the foundation’s bank records allege they found several cash payments that were inconsistent with Fallen Officers’ “mission and purpose.” Between 2019 and 2020, $34,938 was transferred from the foundation’s bank account into a personal account under Zore’s name, according to OALE.
Zore, who claimed that she accepted no compensation from the foundation, also received $4,500 in payroll payments between September and November 2020, the arrest report states. The investigation also found that Fallen Officers had made a $500 child support payment in Ohio, a $100 payment to a chiropractor, and paid $216 to a massage therapist.
If convicted both wife and husband could face prison sentences of 15 and five years, respectively. When reached on the phone, Randall refused comment. A call to Zore meanwhile went directly to voicemail.
In addition to raising money for the families of slain cops, the organization funded scholarships for youths interested in joining law enforcement and was also raising funds for a purported memorial monument at Sudgen Regional Park in Naples. Zore and Randall claimed they had the blessing of Collier County elected officials for the monument, but the county commission has not voted on the proposal.
Throughout the foundation’s existence, Zore and Randall allegedly played partisan politics at the charity’s fundraising events, regularly favoring Republican politicians and far-right celebrities as speakers and guests of honor.
In October 2018, Fallen Officers scuttled a flag football tournament in honor of a slain officer in Ventura County, California, after the local sheriff accused the foundation of not registering with the state as a charity, as well as stacking the event’s line-up with pro-Donald Trump speakers, including actor Scott Baio who hosted a “fireside chat” for Fallen Officers in March.
In previous interviews with FLCGA and WGCU, Randall and Zore said the foundation raised money via monthly cover band concerts at Sugden Regional Park, a handful of flag football tournaments in Florida and Texas, and a gala in March 2020. Fallen Officers also sells “Back the Blue” themed merchandise on its website.
In addition to failing to register with the state, Fallen Officers hasn’t filed tax returns for 2019 and 2020. To qualify for tax exempt status, federal law requires charitable organizations to submit annual tax returns and make the documents available to the public.
Zore and Randall insisted that they had nothing to hide, and that they had received extensions from the Internal Revenue Service to file the foundation’s tax returns. Zore also dismissed allegations that the foundation engages in Republican partisanship.
"When we do these events, it is just about law enforcement,” Zore said in a February interview with FLCGA News. "It’s not about whether you are red, blue or whatever. It is about honoring law enforcement only.”
This story was produced in partnership with the Florida Center for Government Accountability, a non-profit organization that facilitates local investigative reporting across the state.