Perverted Payday

Radar Magazine/November 7, 2007

Xavier Von Erck, the sweaty-palmed founder of online vigilante group Perverted Justice, pulls down a cool $120,000 per year by pretending to be a little girl, according to documents he filed with the IRS seeking tax-exempt status for the organization.

He also expects to be paid a total of nearly $2 million by NBC through next year in "consulting fees" for Perverted Justice's role in setting up stings of functionally retarded creeps for Dateline's "To Catch a Predator" series, despite the fact that NBC has told him the show may get canceled.

The information comes from the Perverted Justice Foundation's application for tax-exempt status, which was approved by the IRS last month—just in time to make donations in Mom and Dad's name for Christmas!—and then promptly made public.

(Radar has written about Von Erck previously, notably here. That link will take you to an archived version of the article—we were forced to take the story off our servers in the face of repeated denial-of-service hack attacks from, um, somebody.)

According to the application, NBC paid Perverted Justice $802,520 last year for the seven stings it conducted, roughly $115,000 per sting, including the November operation in Murphy, Texas, that resulted in the suicide of a local prosecutor who'd been caught in a sexually suggestive IM chat with a Perverted Justice decoy—NBC News cameras were waiting outside his home as he shot himself in the head with a pistol. Neither NBC nor Perverted Justice have ever confirmed precisely how much money the group earns from the Dateline collaboration, but previous reports pegged it at $100,000 per episode.

Perverted Justice's three staff employees—Von Erck, who is president; Dennis Kerr, aka "Frag," who is chief financial officer; and Alison Shea, aka "Del Harvey," who is secretary—each earn $120,000 per year. According to a salary survey [pdf] by Nonprofit Times, the average executive director of a nonprofit pulled down less than $100,000 per year in 2005. Just under half of Perverted Justice's income last year went to covering those three salaries.

Perverted Justice expected to earn another $450,000 from NBC in 2007 and $600,000 in 2008, but it's unclear how much of that will actually be paid. So far this year, the group appears to have conducted four stings: one in New Jersey that aired earlier this year and three in Kentucky that have yet to air and are expected to be combined into one episode. But according to a letter the foundation wrote to the IRS in July seeking an expedited review of the application, "NBC has expressed uncertainty as to whether it will continue to air" the Predator segments. If that happens, Perverted Justice would be left in a lurch—the group's fundraising target of $350,000 for next year wouldn't even cover Von Erck, Kerr, and Shea's salaries.

NBC declined to comment.

Aside from the NBC cash-cow, Perverted Justice had more than $300,000 in the bank last year and hopes to raise an additional $600,000 in grants and contributions by the end of 2008 from donors like Wal-Mart and Microsoft. It reported no charitable income in 2006, though, and as of July 2007, according to the application, no donors had stepped forward. Aside from stinging perverts, the group plans to educate parents and children about online dangers, and to develop do-it-yourself software kits to help cops track predators online and parents to monitor and control their kids' online activities.

E-mailed for a response, Von Erck wrote: "Thanks for contacting us for comment, John. Unfortunately, you're not a legitimate reporter, you're just a rather scummy fellow who writes for a tabloid rag. Other than being told that you're a scummy hack who resembles a stalker more than a journalist, we don't have any comment for you on this issue or any other issue as you've already been told in the past. We wish you the best with your low-rent reporting gig...."

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