The state attorney general's office today
requested that Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis (ARMS) of America
Ltd. turn over all the records from its 15-month history, in the wake of
claims that the non-profit nationwide group had misappropriated and
Assistant Attorney General John Vasquez, head
of the AG's charitable trust division, and Serena Kuvet, of the AG's office,
gained access to the records after they presented ARMS a letter from
Attorney General Jim Mattox requesting the records.
Flanked by a state trooper, Vasquez and Kuvet
entered the ARMS office at 1801 Main at 9:15 a.m. They presented the letter
to a receptionist, who admitted the officials to offices behind the
reception area. Later, they were joined by ARMS President Ira Morel and ARMS
attorney J. Randolph Ewing.
Vasquez said he would be looking at ARMS
financial records and ``any other records that we would find to be of
interest.'' Vasquez said he did not know how long the investigation, which
will be conducted at the ARMS office, would take.
He said that under the state's Miscellaneous
Business Corporation Act he could not reveal what he might find in those
records ``unless we file some kind of suit.''
Ewing said ARMS welcomes the investigation
and wants to know if there is evidence of wrongdoing.
``ARMS has nothing to hide,'' he said. ``It's
a non-profit corporation and, as such, the public has the right to know what
British rock star Ronnie Lane, who has MS,
and his Scottish physician Dr. Phillip James in December requested the
investigation. They furnished records to the attorney general's office
showing that ARMS paid Houston attorney Mae Nacol, former ARMS director, at
least $206,202 for legal fees, salary and reimbursement for expenses and
entertainment since December 1984, when ARMS was founded. The organization
was formed from more than $1.1 million raised primarily during a 1983 rock
tour by Lane and some of his musical contemporaries. The records show that
of the original $1.1 million, only $65,920 has been given to Texas A&M
Nacol claims that much of the research
designed by ARMS was to be conducted when MS victims called the
organization's nationwide toll-free phone number, which was to be answered
at the ARMS office.