The Florida couple who manufactured a controversy in Ventura County three years ago, when they claimed their charity flag football tournament to benefit police was called off because they were supporters of President Donald Trump, have been arrested on suspicion of soliciting donations without a license and misusing funds.
Mike Randall and Rosemary Zore of the Fallen Officers Foundation are due to be arraigned this month in a Collier County, Florida, courtroom, records show.
Zore, 45, is being charged with engaging in solicitation of contributions without a license and failing to apply contributions in a manner substantially consistent with the solicitation, both felonies.
Randall, 52, has been charged with one count of failure to register as a professional solicitor.
Both are free on bond.
Randall and Zore triggered backlash against the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office in September 2019 when they told the media that Sheriff Bill Ayub and Cmdr. Tim Hagel—then T.O. police chief— “canceled” their planned charity flag football game at Newbury Park High School because they didn’t like the fact they were Trump supporters.
Backers of the president lambasted the sheriff’s office and Thousand Oaks city government for days on social media after Randall told the story to FOX News and other outlets.
At the time of the controversy, Ayub said his decision to pull the department out of the game had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with concerns about the legitimacy of the foundation, which was promising to donate money to the family of fallen sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, who had died months earlier at the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting in T.O.
If what Collier County prosecutors say is true, Ayub was right to be suspicious. According to a statement from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Fallen Officers Foundation operated without being registered or licensed and illegally sent funds back and forth between the foundation and Gold Lion Agency LLC, Randall’s for-profit company.
Attempts to reach Zore and Randall were unsuccessful.
In spring 2019, Randall and Zore contacted the sheriff’s office with an offer to put on a 7-on-7 flag football tournament to raise funds for Helus’ wife and son and create a scholarship in Helus’ name. Because Zore had ties to law enforcement—she is the daughter of a Miami police officer killed in the line of duty—VCSO granted a meeting.
At the time, the foundation, created in 2018, had put on just one Blue Bowl, in Fort Myers, Florida.
Despite the organization’s lack of a track record, sheriff’s department leadership agreed to lend their support to the game.
The duo began signing up teams at $600 a pop, a few sponsors signed on and donations rolled in. The Thousand Oaks Police Department and Newbury Park High School advertised the event on Twitter and Facebook.
But a few weeks after the game was announced, a member of Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin’s staff alerted the department to the growing “guest list,” which included actor Scott Baio, pop singer Joy Villa and Ronda Kennedy, a Republican running for Congress.all noted Trump supporters.
The sheriff said at the time that he came to believe the foundation carried a political bent and had ulterior motives, so he made the call to pull the department out weeks before the event.
Informed of the couple’s arrest, Ayub said via text: “Sadly, this is not surprising news to me.”
“My sense was that they were far more interested in promoting their own self interests as opposed to supporting and honoring peace officers that gave all in the performance of their duties,” he said. “It is unfortunate that there are people like those who capitalize on tragic events for their own enrichment.”
Hagel, who retired from the sheriff’s department a few months after the controversy, said this week that he harbors no ill will toward Randall or Zore. He does, however, still feel the sting of the criticism he received during the episode.
“As part of my job and duty, I made an oath to serve all residents of Thousand Oaks,” he said. “I love our community. I love all 12 families from the Borderline and the hundreds of victims. I always did my best and every day forward I will continue to do my best to look out for the welfare of both.”