Lady Gaga's heart may be in the right place, but her actions have put the sensationalist singer in legal limbo. A Michigan lawyer's group called 1800LAWFIRM is alleging the pop star and her partners pocketed money intended for Japanese earthquake victims.
The lawsuit charges that the meat-dress wearing singer and her associates padded shipping fees on the $5 white and red "We Pray for Japan" bracelets for sale on the Lady Gaga shopping site -- despite claiming "all proceeds go directly to Japan relief efforts" -- and puffed up the amount of money donated.
Gaga (whose real name is Stefani Germanotta) has been no slouch in her Japanese relief efforts. She has already claimed to have donated about $3 million and is currently in Japan performing a benefit concert.
Whether or not the drama queen is found to be guilty of wrongdoing, she is not the first celeb to be ensnared in a charity scandal. Here are some other cases of good intentions gone awry:
Bono and the Over-the-Top ONE campaign
The New York Post charged Bono with deceiving donors over how their money was spent on his ONE campaign, a charitable group devoted to ending extreme poverty and preventable disease. The newspaper was irked that ONE sent out such goodies to reporters as Starbucks coffee and designer water bottles in a campaign to raise awareness instead of spending money directly to hungry and sick children.
A spokeswoman for the group defended the publicity stunt as aiding the victims' cause by shedding light on their plight. "Sometimes it's pretty hard to get through to reporters with the information about the lives of the world's poorest people," said Kimberly Hunter.
The Post also had a quibble with the fact that more than half of the money raised was spent on executive and staff salaries.
Madonna and the Missing Malawi Boarding School Money
Just this spring, Madonna put the kibosh on plans to open a boarding school for girls in the African country of Malawi after a scandal erupted overher charity's inept management team squandering $3.8 million in donations before ground was even broken. Among disappointed donors were gal pal Gwyneth Paltrow and former boy toy Alex Rodriguez.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Conned by Good Actress
The couple known as TomKat was taken in by the sob story of the mother of a wounded Marine sergeant who turned out to be more Ma Barker than Mother Teresa. Nellie Bagley, the mother of Staff Sgt. Jose Pequeno who suffered severe brain damage in Iraq from a grenade explosion, had spent time in prison for bilking thousands of dollars from co-workers by pretending her daughter had cancer. Portraying Pequeno's sister, Elizabeth Bagley, Katie Holmes appeared in a PBS Memorial Day special that re-enacted the plight of the wounded soldier and his family.
After the show aired, many viewers sent donations directly to the victim's mother, unaware that she had been twice convicted of fraud. Not only were the parents of Suri Cruise ignorant about Bagley's criminal background, the PBS producer was also in the dark. He told the National Enquirer, "We knew nothing about it. I thought I was sitting with a little old lady who was a heroine, who had gone without money, living on noodles for months."
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- ONE campaign
- Mother Teresa
- publicity stunt
- The New York Post
- benefit concert