Ohio’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against a horse rescue charity, alleging nearly $US50,000 was misappropriated.
Mike DeWine announced the action against a Cambridge-based horse rescue charity, Frog Pond Farm, Inc., and its owner. The case centers on the alleged misappropriation of funds and failing to register with the state.
DeWine also announced a settlement with a horse rescue in Tipp City, Serenity Horse Rescue, which has agreed to dissolve.
According to the lawsuit, Frog Pond Farm was incorporated in March 2004.
As a horse rescue, it buys or otherwise rescues horses from slaughter situations, takes care of them, and facilitates adoption.
The organization solicited money from the public by saying that donations would be used to rescue horses.
The attorney general’s Charitable Law Section discovered that Frog Pond Farm’s owner, Lisa Gordon, of Cambridge, used the organization’s bank account as if it were her own and is alleged to have misappropriated nearly $US50,000 between 2011 and 2013.
She also failed to register with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office from 2004 to 2012, the suit alleges.
The 17-count lawsuit, filed in the Guernsey County Court of Common Pleas, alleges violations of the Ohio Charitable Organizations Act, the Ohio Charitable Trust Act, and common law.
Counts include breaching fiduciary duties, fraud, conversion, unjust enrichment, and reformation of charitable trust.
The lawsuit seeks to recover the money that was used for personal purposes and to distribute the charity’s assets to another charity with a similar purpose.
“Running a horse rescue facility requires a lot of work, and those who operate charitable organizations must be able to fulfill their legal responsibilities,” DeWine said.
“We simply cannot allow those who run charities to use the charity’s bank account as their own personal bank account or to fail in their duties to properly run the organization.”
In another case, Shula Woodworth, who operated Serenity Horse Rescue, agreed to dissolve her organization and redistribute its assets after the attorney general found that the organization was not managed properly.
According to the agreement — an Assurance of Discontinuance filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas — all the organization’s assets, including a $US6430 payment, will be redistributed to other horse rescue organizations.