Marina Kushner is the founder of a non-profit association fighting the evils of caffeine named the Caffeine Awareness Association. Authorities allege Marina was selling court-ordered community service hours though an online quiz and selling her caffeine addiction books, rather than actually performing legitimate community service. According to the lawyer unveiling the case, District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., "A community service sentence is a public and personal responsibility." Kushner pleaded guilty to the charge.
The caffeine Awareness Association is a group which purports to be about the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of the public whose lives have been affected by their misuse of, or dependency on caffeine. While their goals might be about selling books on the fears of being addicted to caffeine, they regularly posted events involving selling community service hours. For example, according to an online event they hosted on Eventbrite:
Earn community service hours from home, school......anywhere, through this web based online opportunity! This home study program written allows you to earn 25 hours or more of community service from the comfort of your home. You'll get an open-book test. --Book and home study course --Self-paced learning, at your convenience --Receive a letter of community service upon completion.
Marina has written three books about the horror of caffeine and coffee drinks and according to her biography on Amazon, as well as her organization starting "National Caffeine Awareness Month" in March and "Caffeine Addition Recovery Month" in October - Recognized in 5 states and 21 cities across America. She states that caffeine addiction can cause career crises, financial problems, physical ailments, anxiety disorders, heart problems, cancer as well as the killing of our country's youth.
Prosecutors first became aware of the scam when a man in Florida filed a letter from the Caffeine Awareness Association to satisfy their community service agreements. Prosecutors also found people in Washington and Oregon who were also using this same organization to do their community service.
The association sold people letters certifying community service completion, and charged their members a certain amount depending on how many community service hours they needed to finish. All the customers had to accomplish is to read her e-books on caffeine, and then take a test to see what they had learned. The customers did not need to even pass her "test", but just take the online quiz to get their certificates of completion.
According to the report, The anti-caffeine group and their websites devoted to their cause made over $200,000 over a period of several years. Their website at http://www.caffeineawareness.org states it is down due to technical issues.