Sergeant/Dr. Demetrick Pennie’s Rebuttal to the Libelous Dallas Morning News Story
August 17, 2018 (Dallas, Texas)
– Because of the personal attack on me and the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundations and Texas Fallen Officer Foundation, as written by Naomi Martin
of the Dallas Morning News, which bares several racial undertones referencing to my upbringing in the ghettos of Houston, Texas, and my political views as a conservative Republican, I felt that it was necessary to release the following statement in detail to show the flaws in her reporting. It is also important to note that because of Naomi Martin's
journalistic malpractice, I am now considering legal action against her and the Dallas Morning News for defamation.
It has also come to my attention that the "uniformed" Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings
interjected his personal opinions into the discussion and issued a statement in a Facebook post defaming me about the mismanagement of funds. Contradictorily, in that same post, he praises the same group (Assist the Officer Foundation/ATO) and its leaders despite the fact that they are currently involved with two separate lawsuits about the mismanagement and misappropriation of funds relating to the July 7, 2016, attack.
See Chris Salcedo interview of Sgt. Pennie: Did Sgt. Demetrick Pennie Misuse Funds? Hear His Response
Mayor Rawlings "Fans the Flame" and Incites Social Media Criticism and Attacks Against Me
Mayor Rawling's statements hold well to the Dallas Morning News article's biased tone as it is suggestive of the mayor's own perceptions of African Americans that come from the inner city.
See the Mayor's two statements below:
Widow of Dallas Officer Killed in July Shooting Files Lawsuit
Out of respect for "fallen" officers, Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and Texas Fallen Officer Foundation elect not to comment on any statement issued by a "fallen" officer's family member. Also, I believe that it was classless and in "poor" taste for the Dallas Morning News to attack the character of Mr. Rick Zamarripa for categorizing his grief process and measures to uphold his son's memory as ploys to seek fame. That suggestion was very offensive.
Wendy Walker, the mother of "fallen" officer Jerry Walker's three oldest kids, has been victimized numerous times because Little Elm Police Department leaders directed support away from her kids. She has never asked for anything but to be able to take care of all of her children. However, the Assist the Officer Foundation (ATO) has contributed to her pain by withholding more than $50,000 that was donated to ATO for the benefit of the Walker children.
Line of Duty Death
In response to the unfair and mischaracterizing statements issued by the Little Elm Police Captain: It's truly unfortunate that you couldn't contact me directly to explain how you felt. Instead, you waited more than a year and told a news reporter, so she could do a distorted story.
My efforts have and will always be centered on supporting the families and the officers grieving at the scene. When I handed out my card, it was intended for you to give it to the family so that I could provide them with an initial check
to assist with the burial and any other related funeral experiences. Luckily, the Fort Worth Police Department accepted the support and I was able to assist in supporting the family as intended.
Racism is Evident
The article section entitled "From Foodstamps to Fox News" has significant racist undertones and is high disrespectful of my grandmother's memory. Dallas Morning News reporter Naomi Martin wasted no time in attacking the fact that I am from the inner-city, so that she could draw racial innuendoes suggestive of the racist cliché phrase "Once from the hood, always from the hood." I bear no qualms about who I am and where I come from, but I will not stand idly by and allow someone who doesn't understand my life and political views to defame my character, integrity and upbringing. It's true that my grandmother played a major role in my life, but the values that she taught me far outweigh any other accomplishments that I've ever achieved: being principled in my beliefs, having integrity, fighting for what's right and never begging for a handout – these are all principles that Mayor Rawlings or Dallas Morning News writer Naomi Martin cannot empathize with. Additionally, what my experiences in the inner-city have taught me, that obviously Naomi Martin hasn't learned, is how to be culturally tolerant and how to be in-tuned to behaviors and comments that are racially insensitive.
While conducting the interview with the reporter, one of the first questions that she asked me was about me being shot in the leg back in 2003 while involved in an illegal drug confrontation. I advised that the question was inappropriate, but I wasn't ashamed to answer it because the story was false
and I publicly spoke about the accident across the country. As Naomi Martin sat staring at a copy of an old article about the story contemplating her next question, I explained that the story was false and that I had already "legally" addressed it in years past, which is why it no longer exists online. (Someone had given the reporter a printed copy.)
To sensationalize the story, the Dallas Morning News writer Naomi Martin tried to paint a picture of a "troubled" African American Dallas Police Sergeant who has "collected millions for fallen officers," but only gave a portion to families in need. Martin's comments were irresponsible to even suggest that I would somehow stoop to the level of criminal malfeasance by doing "underhanded" deals and skimming money off the top for personal consumption. This skewed way of thinking is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by any credible news outlet as it relates to journalism. Although Naomi Martin had all of our financial records as reported to the IRS and knew firsthand that nothing remotely suggested wrongdoing or anything about scheming deals to funnel money to a "friend" who manages a fundraising company, she still wrote the story to defame me.
Relationship with Fundraising Company Owner
In late 2015, after starting the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation, I was searching for new ways to bring money into the organization to fund an initiative to pay to keep fresh flowers on all of the officers' graves in the Restland Garden of Honor each year. After receiving commitments from companies that failed to follow through on making the payments, I decided to implement a measure to overhaul our fundraising efforts. Since smaller campaigns like cookouts and walking door-to-door to seek donations were proving to be ineffective, I began to research fundraising measures. I learned that telemarketing was an effective way to fundraise and it posed little to no financial risks for the organization. I also learned that call-soliciting for donations was strictly prohibited by the State of Texas, unless it was done through a bonded telemarking company. To help facilitate our fundraising goals, the DFOF Board voted to hire a fundraiser. However, accomplishing that goal would prove to be more complicated because we had no name recognition.
To expedite our search, I went to the Texas Attorney General's website and researched other foundations that used telemarketing and evaluated their rates of return and overall performance. Some companies stood out more than others, and that's when I began calling. After being denied by two companies because we were new to the market, we finally came across Statewide Appeal which was owned my Mark Fredde. Initially, Mr. Fredde denied and was reluctant to take on a new law enforcement-related group. In an effort to cajole and convince Mr. Fredde to take on the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation on as a client, we invited him to our events. Over the next 3 to 4-month period, I invited him to several events to see what we did. After finally realizing that our intentions were good, Mark Fredde accepted our offer. Over the next year, we would establish a business relationship, one based on mutual respect, but maintained boundaries relative to business. Based on Statewide Appeal's success for our Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation, in 2017 the Texas Fallen Officer Foundation Board's sought to do the same for the State and employed their services. Over the coming year, he and other sponsors would donate to and attend our events in support of our missions.
Dallas FOF and Texas FOF Are Not The Same Group
The Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and the Texas Fallen Officer Foundation are two independent 501(c)3 organizations – both designed with a central mission of supporting the families of "fallen" officers in the Dallas-Fort Worth region and throughout the State of Texas, respectively. Both foundations are controlled by their own independent governing boards, which embrace the central focus of providing immediate support to the families of "fallen" officers in the initial aftermath of a tragedy and providing continued support in the form of social gatherings, financial assistance, comfort and advocacy long after other forms of support have ended elsewhere. The independent organizations also have their own accounting and there is no overlapping of funding for the two groups. Based on the structure of the Dallas Morning News article, it was apparent that the writer, Naomi Martin, intentionally combined the numbers for both groups so that she could deceive the public into believing that money was being stolen from the Foundations, as suggested in her statement:
"Most of that money never made it to fallen officers' families, a Dallas Morning News
investigation has found. Instead the bulk of it went to three telemarketing companies, one of which is owned by Pennie's friend. Tens of thousands of dollars went straight into Pennie's pocket."
Texas Fallen Officer Foundation
Texas Fallen Officer Foundation was formed August 1, 2016. In 2016, Texas Fallen Officer Foundation (Texas FOF) raised $22,313. Of those monies, 0% was paid for travel, 0% was paid for salaries, and 0% was paid for administrative costs; however, 100% of the $22,313 was allocated for future benefits for families. In 2017, Texas FOF contracted services with two telemarketers, both of which raised significant funding for Texas FOF. Collectively with the telemarketers, corporate sponsors and direct donations, Texas FOF raised $1,009,257. One company raised $497,758 and the other company raised $472,974, totaling $970,732. Of that amount, Texas FOF made $222,156. No monies were paid for salaries and $84,699 was used to fulfill the organization's mission. $137,457 was placed in reserve and allocated for future benefits of fallen officers.
Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation
Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation was initially established in 2009 by active members of the Fraternal Order of Police designed to assist only their membership. In 2010, the organization went defunct and remained dormant until 2015. In 2015, I assumed the name, reorganized and restructured the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation based on feedback provided to me by police widows who sought to find ways to enhance support for them. Although our mission was separate and distinct from the Dallas Police Association's Assist the Officer Foundation (ATO), its leaders sought to monopolize fundraising in the City of Dallas and to shut down other Dallas-based police support non-profits. Because of the Dallas Police Association's entrenched politics in the City of Dallas and the political contributions made through the DPA Pact, they have had unrestricted freedom to do whatever they wanted without fear of repercussion. This premise is supported by the fact that following the July 7, 2016, attack, the City of Dallas entered into an unlawful agreement with the ATO, which permitted the ATO to receive and deposit all donations received by the city into their bank account regardless of whom the donations belonged to. The ATO then received and stole more than $12,000 in checks written to the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation. This was the basis of the federal lawsuit that was filed by the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation against the Dallas Police Association and the Assist the Officer Foundation. It should also be noted that as a whistleblower, I had a legal and moral obligation to report the behavior because of the conflicts of interests.
Review Lawsuit: https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Slain-Police.pdf
DFOF and ATO Financial Comparison for 2016
Following the 2016 attack in Dallas, Texas, Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation raised $1,375,144. In support of the families impacted by the tragedy (fallen and injured), the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation donated $570,788. Donation ratio stands at 42% based on these numbers. After deducting operational expenses, $733,998 was allocated for future support for other "fallen" officer families. Most contributions for this year were based on "grassroots" fundraising and direct solicitations.
In 2017, because of my affiliation with the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation, the organization reached a national level of notoriety after I filed a federal lawsuit against Black Lives Matter and President Barack Obama for inciting violence against police officers. My personal activism related to protecting the interests of police garnered me significant support and I became known simply as "Sergeant Pennie" in national circles. Although the heightened publicity was respected by many, it also led to my receiving massive amounts of "death threats." With the future intention of marketing my name, I incorporated "Sgt. Pennie LLC." Considering that I was receiving death threats, I couldn't use my home address and I couldn't use the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police address, so I elected to use Statewide Appeal's address to secure the name. No business was ever conducted under Sgt. Pennie LLC., as told to the Dallas Morning News reporter.
Attack On My Political Views
We are living in dangerous times, when the liberal media (Dallas Morning News) openly attacks conservatives and city leaders jump on the bandwagon just to "fan the flame." The Dallas Morning News article was a blatant attack on my political beliefs, being an African American Republican, who just so happened to have a different worldview because of my education, experience and training. The article is riddled with negative commentary about my political beliefs, which has absolutely nothing to do with my ability to manage non-profit organizations.
The article stated:
"In 2016, he filed a high-profile lawsuit against former President Barack Obama and the social movement Black Lives Matter, claiming they incited violence against police officers. That raised Pennie's profile, particularly in conservative political circles. He has been interviewed by commentator Tomi Lahren, NRA TV, Fox News and Breitbart. He told a Republican Party gathering in Plano in June that the public assistance his grandmother relied on actually served 'to keep us in the hole we were in.'"
Ironically, in the entry of the article, I am referenced as a "charismatic but largely unknown police sergeant named Demetrick Pennie
Explanation For The Biased Attack
While we were conducting the interview, I noticed that many of the questions reporter Naomi Martin was asking me was also being messaged to me by a "social media antagonist" linked to the Dallas Police Association. She kept looking at her phone as if she was seeking validation from someone outside. In the coming days, members of the DPA would advise me that the reporter was being fed the questions by DPA's public relations firm Mayes Media. This "shady" firm also represented Dallas Councilman Dwaine Caraway, who recently pled guilty to federal corruption charges. This revelation prompted me to further evaluate the relationship, at which time I found that the reporter, Naomi Martin,
was Facebook Friends with Mike Mata
, the President of the DPA and the subject of my complaint. Although I suspected the inappropriate connection, I believed that with Dallas Morning News being a major publication, that the writer would have some journalistic integrity. I was completely wrong in my assumption.
Dallas FOF 2017 Report and Fundraisers
In 2017, the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation built up a significant level of financial support through sponsors, direct donors and telemarketers. Based on the significant number of hours allocated and resources that I provided to the foundation in my off-duty hours, I accepted a $43,000 salary, which amounted to approximately 4% of the organization's annual gross receipts for 2016.
For 2017, the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation raised $807,395 and donated $82,042 to 35 separate families. On the surface, it would appear that Dallas FOF had only donated approximately 10% of its gross funds. However, at a closer glance, the percentage rate is significantly higher after "contracted services" for the telemarking is removed from the equation.
In 2017, both telemarketers raised a significant amount of money. Based on the contractual agreement with the companies, the Dallas FOF was obligated to pay the fundraiser costs first before allocating funds toward any of its services and/or initiatives.
Collectively between the fundraisers, they raised $484,555. Based on the contractual agreement with the two separate telemarketers, they were collectively paid $390,208, leaving the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation with $94,320. Dallas FOF worked with the community and enhanced support for 2017 and raised approx. $124,000 on its own for the organization. Remember for year 2017, $82,042 was donated to families. After all expenses for the year had been paid, Dallas FOF was left with $198,000 in the bank. Those funds were in turn placed in reserve for future support of the mission.
Based on this breakdown, which considers the organization's net profits, the actual donation percentage ratio is 37% for that year.
outside of what was reported to the IRS was paid to me or any other member of this organization!
Telemarketing is Widely Accepted Nationally
Agenda-driven Reporting and Blatant Disregard of Facts
The Dallas Morning News reporter, Naomi Martin, was clearly agenda-driven and derelict in her responsibility to explain the "truth" to the public about Dallas FOF operations, especially considering that it was clarified by Dallas FOF's attorney, Errol Copilevitz, who is nationally recognized as an expert in the field for defending telemarketing practices before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mr. Copilevitz saw that the reporter was miscalculating average costs, and tried to explain how the telemarketing companies operate and how they should be considered as "contracted services" for the Foundations instead of linking them together.
In 2016, the Assist the Officer Foundation (ATO) raised $12,555,867. They donated $1,417,789, which actually amounts to 11% for the year. Additionally, they placed the donations raised for the families impacted by the July 7, 2016, attack in a Trust in an effort to restrict access to the families. Members of the DPA have openly admitted to cashing the checks of the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation, but excused the behavior by saying that it was an accounting error and that they returned the money, though nearly two years later. As outlined by the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation's lawsuit against ATO, if they can't be trusted to do basic accounting to prevent placing the checks of other organizations into their personal account, how can they be trusted to manage millions of dollars
for the families? There are also numerous problems with placing donated money in trusts, especially when there is no specified reason for restricting access to the beneficiary! This fact was conveniently ignored by the Dallas Morning News reporter, Naomi Martin. No group has a legal right to open the mail of and/or cash the checks of anyone else. This behavior is criminal theft!
Because of the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation's lawsuit, the Dallas Morning News wanted to interview me about the merits of the case. My attorney and I agreed to meet with Naomi Martin, entrusting that she would do a fair and impartial story. However, when we arrived for the interview, we were completely caught off-guard and confused by the inappropriate line of questioning because it had nothing to do with the lawsuit.
Review the video
In closing, over the years, I have garnered the trust of police families across the nation based on my supportive efforts. As a nationally-recognized law enforcement advocate, I have always represented the "best" interest of fallen officers and their families in every decision made. Unfortunately, the Dallas Morning News story has distorted my efforts, as well as the organizations' mission, focus and objectives for the purposes of attacking my character, integrity and background. The Dallas Morning News story was saturated with half-truths and misrepresentations about the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and Texas Fallen Officer Foundations, which to this end will only serve to hinder and detract from the foundation's abilities to acquire future donations in an effort to provide support and resources to police families and survivors.
To be clear, the Fallen Officer Foundation's model is being a support organization, not an insurance company. We support families in need and we do so in the most ethical and legal way possible. Every direct dollar donated to the Foundation is allocated dollar for dollar to the mission. On the other hand, we do contract services with telemarketers to raise funds to support our mission. If the telemarketers collect the donations, we are legally obligated to pay the contract costs first and the remaining percentages are then used to support the mission.
Phone soliciting is an expensive way to raise money, but it is very effective. The practice has been around since the 1950s and is approved by Attorney General Offices across the country. Currently, telemarketers represent a significant portion of our fundraising portfolio, but we also have other fundraising initiatives including: major donors, clothing bins, and sponsored events.
It is important for the public to know that every dollar is accounted for and reported to the IRS related to the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation and Texas Fallen Officer Foundation. Additionally, the benefits of the organizations can be confirmed and attested to by numerous families that are directly supported by the organizations' mission.
To ensure fairness and equity for our families and the public, we give our direct donors an option to donating to the Foundation for tax-related purposes or to donate directly to the families. If a check is written in a family's name, we deliver the check directly, no questions asked. We DO NOT
deposit the check into our bank account or place them in TRUST. This is an unlawful deceptive practice.