Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is suing the man who organized this year’s “LoziLu” mud races as fundraisers to fight cancer, saying he has violated charity and consumer protection laws.
The action targets Frederick Bradley Kellogg and a Minnesota company called Fresh New Taste LLC that were running women-only obstacle mud races around the country.
The Star Tribune reported last month about the trouble with the LoziLu races, and how Kellogg and his past businesses have racked up more than 60 unpaid judgments over the years and owe at least $2.6 million.
He’s currently serving 20 years’ probation for a 2012 conviction of felony theft by swindle involving a now defunct wild rice company.
Kellogg, 62, bought LoziLu in December 2014. He has actively marketed the races as a way to “help kiddos with cancer have a future of fun,” filling its marketing with generic messages and images about helping fight cancer and specific references to a small Wisconsin cancer charity called Leukemia Ironman Fundraiser for Eric, or LIFE.
However, he hasn’t paid anything to the tiny nonprofit this year, and has ignored the charity’s requests to stop using its name.
Kellogg began canceling the mud runs last summer, triggering a wave of complaints from runners.
“It was very clear to us that people were motivated to participate in the runs because they believed their fee would support the fight against cancer,” Swanson said Friday.
Swanson’s office has been targeting for-profit companies that mislead the public about their links to charitable causes, enticing people to donate goods or money.
Swanson’s complaint, filed Friday in Sherburne County District Court, accuses Kellogg and his companies of false and misleading solicitations for donations, deceptive trade practices, acting as a professional fundraiser without the required state registration and failing to file solicitation notices with the state.
It asks the court to fine Kellogg, order him to comply with the law and pay the charity and donors what he owes them.
Kellogg did not respond to requests for comment Friday. In an e-mail last month to the Star Tribune, he said he canceled the mud runs because runner participation was lower than expected and insurance costs had risen.
A ticket that a state trooper issued to Kellogg on Wednesday for not wearing a seat belt shows a Pequot Lakes address. However, Swanson’s complaint lists a St. Cloud address for Kellogg. Crow Wing County transferred Kellogg’s case last month, and Sherburne County Probation is currently supervising Kellogg. Probation officials declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday.
The family that runs the Wisconsin charity, LIFE, said it’s grateful that Swanson took on the case.
“This is absolute justice for us,” said Michael McLean, a nursing student in St. Louis.
The McLean family started the tiny nonprofit to help Michael’s brother Eric, who died in 2012 at age 28 of leukemia. It now offers a financial hand to other young cancer patients facing big bills.
McLean said he wants to make clear that his family’s charity was not involved in any deception, and wants to distance itself from Kellogg and LoziLu.
“We haven’t gotten a dime from them since this guy took over,” he said. “That’s the fraud part.”