FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A federal archives technician has found no evidence leaders with the Sandbox Veterans ever served in the military. The organization has also dissolved its nonprofit standing with the state of Indiana.
Throughout the month of February, 15 Finds Out has focused its series of investigations on the Sandbox Veterans. “Volunteers” with the group have approached drivers asking for donations for close to three years. They say the money goes to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. But many in the community have questioned where the money is really going.
So far, 15 Finds Out’s exclusive series of special reports has prompted the Indiana Attorney General’s Office to launch an investigation into the Sandbox Veterans.
Since 15 Finds Out began the series, the once very visible group has seemingly vanished. According to documentation with the Indiana Secretary of State, the Sandbox Veterans filed to dissolve the organization on Valentine’s Day. The same day, member Adam Silvani admitted to a citation he received when asking for donations. A day prior, 15 Finds Out reported the Attorney General’s investigation.
The Sandbox Veterans activity online has disappeared as well. Their Facebook page has been removed and what was once their website now has the title, “Coming Soon?”
In an email, Sandbox Veterans’ director Roger Locke said he was a lifetime member of three of the largest veteran groups in the country. 15 Finds Out also spotted “volunteer” John Cantrell wearing hats that said “Vietnam Veteran.” But according to a technician with the National Personnel Records Center, she found no record that Locke, Silvani, or Cantrell were veterans.
Finally, Cantrell has arguably the most extensive criminal record in the group. A Grand Jury in McHenry County, Illinois indicted him in 2007 for writing hundreds of dollars in bad checks to a Menards. He eventually pleaded guilty to a felony charge.
Then in 2009, authorities in Fort Wayne indicted Cantrell for using counterfeit money at three stores in Glenbrook Square Mall. An Allen County jury found him guilty on two counts of felony forgery and two counts of felony theft.
Cantrell was initially sentenced to eight years in prison in 2009. According to the Indiana Department of Correction, his sentence was cut in half thanks to good time credit. Cantrell was released on parole May 11, 2013. 15 Finds Out spotted him collecting donations for the Sandbox Veterans just two months later.
The Attorney General’s Office currently doesn’t have any update on its investigation.
Tune in Monday as 15 Finds Out talks with an Iraq veteran with PTSD. Hear his thoughts on the Sandbox Veterans and from the agency providing him assistance at 6:00 p.m.