TAMPA, Fla. - Donated items meant for homeless veterans, including blankets and ready-to-eat emergency meals, were instead being sold for personal profit by two men who now face criminal charges, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.
Antonio Colmenares, 57, the Miami director for the Florida Veterans Foundation, and his friend Antonio Sabatier, 60, both of Miami, face first-degree grand theft charges for selling the items, valued at more than $300,000.
Investigators were notified of the thefts in 2015 following a complaint from the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. More than 27,000 blankets and 9,700 meals donated by a Tampa nonprofit, valued at $46,800, were instead sold and deposited into an account of Nike Management, which is owned by Sabatier, according to FDLE.
Other items, including sleeping bags, cots and backpacks, were also sold to Miami-based Worldwide Tactical on three different occasions, totaling a profit of $79,394.41, FDLE said.
Worldwide Tactical had no knowledge that the items were being sold illegally, authorities said.
“These donated items should have gone to help feed and warm veterans struggling to get back on their feet — instead they were sold to fatten the pockets of those charged with preying on the good intentions of others,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement.
Colmenares and Sabatier were booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail, each on a $20,000 bond.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 10 News app now.