The American Eagle Foundation, an organization dedicated to saving the nation's symbolic bird from extinction, lost $500,000 last year in one transaction with Gatlinburg businessman Dennis Bolze's alleged $20 million Ponzi scheme.
According to a report by the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the Pigeon Forge-based nonprofit is one of the victims mentioned but not identified by name in the IRS affidavit that led to Bolze's arrest on fraud charges. AEF is referred to only as "Victim #1, a not-for-profit charitable organization (in East Tennessee)." A source familiar with the transaction confirmed that "Victim #1" is AEF.
Founded in 1985, AEF cares for injured and orphaned eagles, conducts educational programs, runs the largest bald eagle breeding facility in the world, and has released dozens of captive-hatched eaglets into the wild. Once on the endangered species list, the bald eagle is now not even on the threatened species list. By 2007, there were more than 10,000 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states.
Based on court filings, AEF's investments with Bolze began in April 2002 through Advanced Trading Services (ATS), a Nevada shell corporation Bolze created. ATS is also the legal owner of the 16,000-square-foot Gatlinburg house, now in foreclosure, where Bolze and his family lived.
CLICK HERE for the full report.