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thedrifter
12-29-06, 08:39 PM
Ex-Marine sentenced in charity scam

By Art Barnum
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 29, 2006, 6:18 PM CST

A Villa Park Marine Corps veteran was sentenced Friday to 4 years of probation and ordered to undergo inpatient drug treatment for running a scam that collected more than $4,000 for a non-existent charity to aid military families.

Donald McCarver, 41, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to gamble, forgery, possession of a controlled substance and obstruction of justice. He faced up to 5 years in prison.

"My initial reaction was that the scam was appalling," DuPage County Judge George Bakalis said at the sentencing.

McCarver and his fiance, Anne Pelligrini, 41, also of Villa Park, were arrested in May after they posed as military reservists to collect money from shoppers at local supermarkets and discount stores for a purported Navy/Marines Family Relief Fundraiser.

Pelligrini wore her Navy reservist uniform and McCarver displayed his Marine dress coat and a shadow box with service ribbons as they sold $5 raffle tickets.

Pelligrini pleaded guilty in August. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 24 months of probation and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.

McCarver was honorably discharged from the Marines, according to a DuPage County probation report. He told the judge that in his final year, he was rappelling out of a helicopter when he injured his left leg, requiring surgery and treatment over the next 10 years. He said he became addicted to painkillers and heroin.

"On the one hand, you preyed on people's goodwill and sense of patriotism," Bakalis told McCarver. "However, you have contributed to our society. Much of your addiction stems from the injury you received in the military."

Bakalis rejected prosecutors' request for the maximum 5-year sentence. He sentenced McCarver to 90 days of inpatient drug-abuse treatment and ordered him to pay $4,650 in restitution, equal to the amount believed to have been collected in the scam. The money is to go to a charity that helps military families.

abarnum@tribune.com

Ellie