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Author's foundation also appears to be fake

STYLE & CULTURE

The attorney general's office has no listing for a nonprofit the writer of a bogus memoir said she co-founded.

March 07, 2008|Scott Timberg | Times Staff Writer

Another falsehood has emerged in the story of a privileged young white woman from Sherman Oaks whose memoir, "Love and Consequences," described her violent early years as a racially mixed foster child and drug-runner for the Bloods in South Central.

Like those gangland tales, Margaret B. Jones' claim that she co-founded a Los Angeles foundation to help street kids appears to be fiction. The book has been recalled by Riverhead Books, its publisher.

On the jacket of the book, Jones, whose real name is Margaret "Peggy" Seltzer, is described as "an active member" of Brother/SisterHood, "which works to reduce gang violence and mentor urban teens." In the New York Times House & Home section profile that led to her exposure, she's described as a co-founder.

The foundation website was registered by Faye Bender, the author's agent, who said in an interview that she was fooled by Seltzer.

"Peggy portrayed Brother/SisterHood as a budding new organization designed to mentor young gang members," Bender said. "She said she didn't have the financial means to host a website, so I did a favor for a client and registered and hosted it. The information up on the website was information that she provided."

In promotional material for the book, Seltzer said the idea for Brother/SisterHood came from "two homies who have been on death row for twenty years and who felt something needed to be done.

"We're gang members trying to use mentoring and positive contacts with youth, educators, parents and community mentors to elevate the community one person at a time. . . . If you're a teacher or a parent and want someone to talk to, hit us up. If you are in the hood and looking for a way out and we have $25 and you need it to pay for submitting a college application, we'll pay it. We go out and talk to these little kids because they look up to us."

But the website, much of which was devoted to promoting Jones and her book, did not list an address. (The site has since been taken down.)

GuideStar, which tracks nonprofits through federal filings, has no listing for the organization. Inquiries with the California state attorney general's office, with which all California nonprofits must be registered, did not turn up the name either.

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scott.timberg@latimes.com

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Times staff writer David L. Ulin and contributor Carolyn Kellogg contributed reporting to this article.

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