Louisville Naval Museum ordered to stop soliciting in Maryland

Following complaints from multiple people to state officials in Maryland, as well as an article published on this site in January, the Louisville Naval Museum has been ordered to stop soliciting in the state of Maryland.

According to a press release issued Thursday by the Maryland Attorney Generals office, “Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown and Secretary of State Susan C. Lee are announcing that a Cease and Desist Order has been issued against Louisville Naval Museum, Inc., a Kentucky-based charitable organization, requiring that the organization end charitable soliciting in the State of Maryland.”


The release continues, “Louisville Naval Museum, Inc. is believed to have operated aboard a vessel, named the P-520, in several Chesapeake Bay towns and cities, including Annapolis from late 2020 through early 2021, Crisfield from June 2022 through September 2022, and Baltimore from September 2022 through January 2023. Louisville Naval Museum, Inc. is believed to have solicited money throughout the state for years without providing any required annual disclosures to the Secretary of State’s Office. Even after being informed of the need to register, the organization failed to do so and ignored multiple communications from the Secretary of State’s Office inquiring about its fundraising practices.”

The P-520, a World War II-era U.S. Army Air Force crash boat, had a lien filed against it by another group – it was seized by the U.S. Marshals Service in January. While the vessel is still in Maryland waters, the Louisville Naval Museum no longer has anything to do with it.

“The Cease and Desist Order was issued late last month following an investigation that revealed the organization was not registered to solicit charitable contributions in the State of Maryland, a violation of the Maryland Solicitations Act,” according to the release. “Despite being informed of the registration requirement on several occasions, Louisville Naval Museum, Inc. continued to improperly fundraise around the Chesapeake Bay area and failed to provide mandated public disclosures. The organization was provided 30 days to request a hearing to contest the Cease and Desist Order, which it did not.”

Lewis Palmer in front of the ex-USS Ling.. Courtesy photo.

In addition to what he was doing in Maryland, Lewis Palmer, president of the Louisville Naval Museum, also pretended to own a submarine in New Jersey – he convinced a group of volunteers to do work on the vessel, known as the ex-USS Ling. Palmer was also soliciting donations for the USS Ling, despite that he didn’t own it.

John Thomsen was injured while volunteering on the submarine. He has since been awarded a $468,564 judgement against Louisville Naval Museum, which has not yet been collected.

It’s currently unknown whether the state of New Jersey or the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be pursuing any action against Palmer or Louisville Naval Museum.

Anyone who has been solicited by the Louisville Naval Museum, Inc., the P-520, or the Veterans Heritage Foundation, or any representative on behalf of this organization, is encouraged to contact Investigator Robert Gurley with the Charities and Legal Services Division at 410-260-3859 or DLInvestigations_SOS@maryland.gov.

To find out if a charity is registered, check the SoS-Public Registry. To report other suspected violations of charitable giving laws, please call 410-974-5534 or 1-800-825-4510. More information on charities can be found on the Secretary of State’s charity home page.

Donna L. Cole is an award-wining investigative and multimedia reporter. She’s also a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

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