Tax filings obscured donations made by Buford nonprofit, alleged gambling den

Public tax forms show lack of detail provided by Little Kings and Queens
Gwinnett County fundraising organization Little Kings and Queens, known for casino nights and charitable poker tournaments, has a history of filing non-profit tax returns featuring very little information.

Credit: Special

Credit: Special

Gwinnett County fundraising organization Little Kings and Queens, known for casino nights and charitable poker tournaments, has a history of filing non-profit tax returns featuring very little information.

A Gwinnett County fundraising organization known for casino nights and poker tournaments is facing increased scrutiny after its director was arrested and charged with running an illegal gambling den.

A review of publicly available tax records shows the Buford-based Little Kings and Queens organization brought in nearly $1.7 million in contributions in 2019, the most recent tax year available, but provided no specifics about how the profits were distributed.

The director of Little Kings and Queens, 51-year-old Dennis Maxwell, was arrested Friday on a felony count of commercial gambling and a misdemeanor count of keeping a gambling place, Gwinnett police said. An investigation led police to accuse Maxwell of running an illegal gambling operation under the guise of a charitable organization. Upon Maxwell’s arrest, officers seized $30,000 in illegal funds and shut down the organization, police said.

Little Kings and Queens was registered as a charitable organization in Georgia and has been legally required to file an IRS Form 990 each year since its inception in 2016. Form 990 is meant to provide the public with detailed financial information about tax-exempt organizations.

However, the tax returns filed by Little Kings and Queens between 2017-2019, all prepared by Buford-based Forrestall CPAs, provide hardly any detail. As the organization’s revenue grew by hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, the tax filings remain vague and repetitive, providing no specifics on who provided contributions or to what charities revenue was donated.

Maxwell declined to comment when reached by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Forrestall CPAs did not respond to requests for further information.

Little Kings and Queens billed itself as a fundraising organization that used gambling-themed games and events to raise money for a variety of charities that benefit children. The organization’s mission stated on each year’s tax return reads, “TO MAKE KIDS’ DREAMS A REALITY. KIDS ARE OUR FUTURE SO LETS INVEST IN THEM.”

According to Georgia law, the only form of gambling explicitly allowed for charitable purposes is the purchase of raffle tickets for the benefit of a nonprofit organization.

In just four years, the revenue collected by Little Kings and Queens increased tenfold, from about $177,000 in 2016 to nearly $1.7 million in 2019. The organization’s tax returns from 2020-2021 are not yet publicly available.

Depending on the type of nonprofit organization filing a Form 990, additional disclosures are often required. For each tax year, Little Kings and Queens noted on its return that it would provide disclosures about its charity status (Schedule A), a list of contributors who gave money (Schedule B) and a list of donations to other organizations (Schedule I).

None of the tax returns included Schedule B, the list of people and organizations who gave money to Little Kings and Queens, despite cumulative revenue of more than $3.3 million dollars over those four years. Without that information, it is not clear who was giving money to the organization.

Each tax return also uses identical language on Schedule I, which is meant to list all the organizations to which Little Kings and Queens donated money. Instead of listing those charities, Little Kings and Queens used a single line labeled “DONATIONS PAID OUT” followed by a cash lump sum. In 2019, those “donations paid out” amounted to more than $1 million.

Due to the lack of information provided in the organization’s Schedule I, it is not clear who received these donations. Although the website for Little Kings and Queens has been taken down, archived screenshots of the homepage show the organization had the same featured charity of the month, Winder-based Adventure Bags, for the entirety of 2021.

According to the Adventure Bags website, the organization provides backpacks filled with overnight essentials and comfort items to children going through seriously traumatic events. Adventure Bags posts an annual report on its website and has held its 501c3 nonprofit status since 2012.

The chairman of the board for Adventure Bags, Tracey McMahon, told the AJC that the organization would not be releasing a statement about Little Kings and Queens and had not been contacted by authorities. McMahon said her organization had received donations from Little Kings and Queens and had only recently become aware of the charges against the Buford fundraiser’s director.

“We will fully cooperate with local authorities in any way if we are requested to do so,” McMahon said.

Representatives for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, another well-known nonprofit listed as a partner on the Little Kings and Queens website, could not immediately provide any details about the relationship between the two organizations.

Maxwell was released from the Gwinnett County Jail on Saturday on $1,300 bond, online jail records show.

Staff writer Matt Bruce contributed to this article.