ORLANDO, Fla. - Six months after Eyewitness News first exposed area nonprofits accused of using children as a sales force, the Florida Department of Children and Families said it has happened again.
On June 16, deputies in Hernando County arrested Orlando residents Kendy Senat and Terrence Holiday of "Aware and Active Youth Corp" on charges of fraud and child neglect.
According to investigators, the men drove nine children, ages 12 to 15, more than 60 miles from Orlando to Spring Hill in Hernando County to sell items door-to-door.
The sheriff's office said authorities discovered the kids were unsupervised and did not have any method of communication with either Senat, Holiday or their families back in Orlando when one of the kids knocked on an off-duty deputy's door asking for a drink of water.
Hernando County deputies said the kids were selling items for $8 and allowed to keep $2.25 while working between 8 and 12 hours a day.
Investigators said parents had been led to believe the children were at a youth conference in Tampa, when in fact they were selling door-to-door.
Interviews with the children revealed the kids did not know what county they were in, only that they had been given cue cards to read to solicit sales.
"I don't think the kids even know that they are being exploited," said Carrie Hoeppner of DCF. "The reality of it is, these are essentially running as scams."
A trace of Aware and Active Youth Corp. led to state records declaring the group a nonprofit.
State records show Kendy Senat as the registered agent with an address tracing back to a three-bedroom home in the Pine Hills area of Orlando.
In December, Eyewitness News uncovered another Orlando group, "Tenacious Teens," had been hit with a $3,000 fine by the state following a complaint filed through Orlando Police. At the same time, it was also revealed that two other Central Florida groups, "Teens Against Drugs" and "Teens Against Drugs and Alcohol," were also being investigated, but had not been fined.
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