Lamar Odom and his wife Khloe Kardashian could possibly be charged with tax fraud after an ESPN investigation found that their charity, Cathy’s Kids, has not donated any of the money raised to cancer related causes.
‘Cathy’s Kids’ was founded by Lamar Odom in 2004 in honour of his late mother Cathy who died of stomach cancer. One of the charity’s aims is ‘to generate funds for research, care, and clinics for cancer, as well as promote education and awareness about cancer – especially for minorities’, but when ESPN TV show ‘Outside the Lines’ looked through Odom’s tax records, they found that of the $2.2 million raised for the charity, $0 has gone to cancer causes.
ESPN found that $1.3 million, equating to 60% of the money raised, was spent on funding youth basketball teams, while tax records showed the remaining money went towards covering the charity’s expenses, including a $72,000 salary for the charity secretary Jerry DeGregorio, who was also Odom’s high school coach and best man at his wedding to Kardashian.
The pair also ran an eBay action site where they sold ‘personal items’ to raise funds for the charity, stating that a ‘portion’ of the money raised on the site would go to Cathy’s Kids. The eBay site had all items for sale promptly removed from it earlier this week after these allegations were made against them.
Odom’s reps shot back saying “It is unfortunate that Lamar Odom has been the target of an attack on athletes' charities, although he has personally contributed approximately $2.2 million to his foundation,” further stating that ‘not one penny went to help Lamar personally or any member of his family’. The pair’s lawyer further added that the IRS audited Cathy’s Kids from 2005 to 2009 and decided to maintain the charity’s tax exempt status.
If the pair is investigated further, they could be in danger of violating tax law, as the IRS considers it fraud if a charity spends funds in a manner that is inconsistent with its mission statement. ESPN stated that since paying DeGregorio and donating to basketball causes are not specified in the primary mission statement for Cathy’s Kids, Odom may ultimately have fraud charges filed against him.
When asked Odom to comment on the allegations, he responded ‘It’s my money’.