If you live in the Hudson Valley region of New York, you may have come across someone at a grocery store or gas station soliciting contributions for local children suffering from cancer. They may have worn an ID badge around their necks and probably stood close to a table covered by a blue cloth emblazoned with the name Love Holds Life. Maybe you stopped and offered a contribution or maybe you continued on to your car. In either case, you were probably a little skeptical as to whether the donations were really going to the sick local children this organization claimed to sponsor.
You were right to be skeptical. While Love Holds Life is a licensed and registered charity, the organization is little more than a business front cleverly devised by a local man named Richard Senato. Due to long-neglected loopholes in non-profit law, Mr. Senato has been able to use the charity’s money to fund a lavish lifestyle. He has paid for a high-end condo in Tarrytown, winter vacations to Spain, and 3 cars, including a new luxury Mercedes, using money donated to Love Holds Life.
If you’re wondering how Mr. Senato has gotten away with all this, the answer is that technically, he hasn’t done anything illegal….at least not to anyone’s current knowledge. What Mr. Senato has done is masterfully game a system that provides little oversight or regulation on how nonprofits spend their money. Since he is the only full-time employee, Mr. Senato has been able to write off all his living expenses under the charity.
Mr. Senato may be able to deflect scrutiny from the public with misleading statements, but the cold hard numbers in Love Holds Life's tax returns don't lie.
A Closer Look at Love Holds Life's Tax Information
Below is a link to a copy of the organization’s 2016 Form 990. Tax returns that every 501-C charity is required to file with the IRS. This PDF is published on Love Hold’s Life’s website.
Review section 24 E of the expense report. There was $69,569 in 2016 that was listed under “unspecified expenses.” Since a charity’s finances are public, a closer investigation of those unspecified expenses reveal they include Mr. Senato’s mortgage on his Tarrytown condo, car payments, phone bill, his vacation to Spain (which included a condo rental) and his other various living expenses.
According to non-profit law, all charities and non-profit organizations must have a board of directors to act as a safeguard against abuses such as these. However, Mr. Senato has lined Love Holds Life's board with long-time trusted friends who will vote how he asks.
Mr. Senato is quick to remind the public that he receives a small salary of only $40,000 a year. However, when you factor in the $69,596 that he used to pay for his living expenses, it turns out that Mr. Senato profited $109,596 out of the $351,662 donated to Love Holds Life in 2016. If you refer back to that pdf version of the organization‘s tax returns, you will see only $84,879 was allocated to programs that directly support local children. While Love Holds Life claims that 80% of contributions go to the children, if you do the math, less than 25% actually does.
Next time a charity approaches you for a donation, especially a cash donation, it's important to do some research before contributing. There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there exploiting a system lacking some much needed oversight.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
LHL donators beware on July 31, 2020:
After reading the comments below, why is this non profit organization still allowed to function and swindle the hard earned money from hard working people? Can someone please let me know how to file a report so they can be investigated.
I have seen Richard and Carmen and they always look dapper and high maintenance. With no real jobs but this charity to skim off of. He has an expensive taste and she is a leach. How can someone be in charge or co founder of a charity when your life style is way more beyond your financial means.
If they were smart they would stop this nonsense of pretending to care for these sick kids. Both driving around in luxury cars, top brand suits, high fashion purses and jewelry and $$$$ vacations .
This is mind boggling, I hope who ever reads this also looks into Love Holds Life. Hopefully law enforcement or a prosecutor!
LHL scam artists on July 03, 2020:
These two need to be investigated. Carmen has lied about her past. High school drop out who doesn’t take care of her kids that she hasn’t acknowledged. Richard bought her silence In their divorce a new Lexus.
Who better to keep by your side than the women who knows all your dirt.
They deserve each other! Sad that people can’t donate for a worthy cause without scum ripping these helpless kids off!
LHL donor no more on June 30, 2020:
LHL needs to dumb those two from the non profit organization. Richard I’m sure is helping those who are in need but helping himself even more. He needs to go into the car salesman business. His wife is a selfish looser who can’t hold down a job or take care of her kids.
I will never donate again, they need to pay back what they have taken from those poor little kids who are suffering. I’m a firm believer in Karma! Pray for them!
LHL Board Member on March 09, 2020:
John Carmody a person who attacks a kids cancer charity has no morals and no respect. I’ve been on the board for 4 years and am proud to say that we help so many family’s in financial need. We would appreciate if you stop attacking our efforts and if you are looking to resolve this hate we would be happy to discuss. Our financials are public and as other charities do not list on there website we do not at this point. We will be listing only the prior year which will be uploading end of month. LHL is not a scam and Richard Senato is far from a scam artist. Thank you
LoveHoldsLifeIsAScam on March 06, 2020:
Love Holds Life and Richard Rich Senato removed the Love Holds Life Financials from the Love Holds Life website. If you want to see how it looked before Love Holds Life took it down, check out this website.
Clear proof that Love Holds Life and Richard Senato is attempted to hide their financials from the public. Must Love Holds Life and Richard Senato remember that Love Holds Life is a public 501c3 company required to supply their yearly financials to the public. Richard Senato is a scam artist who keeps the cash donations from the donation boxes. Love Holds Life is a scam. Richard Senato is a con artists along with his wife, Carmen Senato. Love Holds Life steals the community's money to use for his own benefit. Love Holds Life is a scam. Richard Senato is a scam artist. Stay away from these people. Richard Senato is not a good person. I hope the public becomes more aware of Richard Senato's scam artist ways. Richard Senato uses people to enrich is own life. Richard Senato is a bad person.
lhlisgone on January 23, 2020:
Love Holds Life no longer has their website! Hopefully they close up shop! Richard Senato is a thief. Richard Senato is a coke head. Richard Senato is a bad person.
LHL-SCAM on November 21, 2019:
'Kansas City Shuffle' is either Richard Senato himself or his wife, Carmen Senato.
Recently, the TeamLHL website has been updated with Richard Senato's wife, Carmen Senato, has been listed as the Co-founder and President. With no college education in a related field and with very minimal experience relating to nonprofits, moving Carmen Senato to the title of President shows Richards desire to control the donation scam. The website also shows a new address, which may explain their dire financial situation since Richard has no money for an office space. This move also allows Richard to control where the donation money physically goes and who sees the total donations.
After the fundraising event is over, Richard unlocks the donation box, counts out the donations, takes a percentage off the top for himself and deposits the rest. No one is there to ensure what's donated versus what's deposited is correct... how much does Richard Senato skim off the top.
Love Holds Life has no checks and balances other than an accountant which can only track what the bank account reports... if Richard doesn't report the cash donations, those donations are never realized.
Richard is a thief and commits fraud daily. Love Holds Life is a scam.
Love Holds Life has not provided a Form-990 in 3 years! How it that possible... because there's no one checking what Richard is doing.
John was correct, Richard Senato is a thief and a crook! He should be locked up for the monies he has stolen to use for his own benefit.
John C. exposed light on Love Holds Life, a nonprofit, committing fraud everyday led by Richard Senato and Carmen Senato.
Love Holds Life is a scam.
I'm sure Love Holds Life does good for some people... but taking donations, peoples are earned money, and pocking those monies for their own personal gain is disgusting. Richard Senato is a disgusting person. Richard Senato is a bad person.
Stay away from Richard Senato and Carmen Senato....
If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck... it's a duck.
If it looks like a scam and sounds like a scam... it's a scam.
Love Holds Life is a scam.
Kansas City Shuffle on October 13, 2019:
We are aware that a law suite is in process for you Mr.Carmody and that many of these activities and post creations and harassment’s have been done on yore company platform computers Tick Tock Johnny Tick Tock
CharityNavigator on October 01, 2019:
Thanks, John. I've seen this non profit throughout Westchester County and always thought something seemed slightly off with the premise of this non-profit. I saw them outside a grocery store asking for cash donations for local children with cancer. I saw people donating $1, $5, $10, and $20. The problem I have is, if you have a dishonest person running the charity, like John explained, it is very easy to 'skim' donations made using cash and report the adjusted amount instead of the actual amount. Richard Senato, whom I am assuming used the profile name below of Jo Legato, seems like he's a shady character... someone you would want to stay away from. Thanks for the insight, John. I know to stay away.
Jo legato on September 30, 2019:
John your a scumbag and can’t read a report.
John Carmody (author) on June 12, 2019:
Unfortunately, it happens all too often nowadays. The best we can do is conduct proper research before donating to a non-profit and spread awareness about fraudulent organizations such as Love Holds Life. If you feel that you have come across an organization that is scamming people, you can file a complaint with the charities bureau of your state's attorney general's office. Here is a link to where you can file a complaint with the NYS office:
RTalloni on June 12, 2019:
Thank you for posting this warning, both about this specific scam and for including a general warning. I just recently heard of a police department getting involved in a charitable effort only to discover that a mere fraction of what is taken in by the so-called charity is given to the children's needs. If the police can be taken in, we had all better pay close attention. Local charities are easiest to track and benefit the people in our own communities.