Artist Says Foundation Demanded Money,|Then Withdrew Its ‘Ellis Island’ Award

     QUEENS (CN) – Artist Jicheng Yao claims the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation defrauded him by repeatedly announcing that it was awarding him its Ellis Island Medal of Honor for 2008, then demanding $5,000 to $15,000 from him, and when he refused to pay, withdrawing the award and giving it to someone else.

     Yao, a U.S. citizen born in China, is head of the co-plaintiff Global Artist League, which he says has 4,000 members. He claims the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation has given its Ellis Island award to six former presidents, and to Nobel laureates, and did not demand that they pay money for it. However, Yao says, other recipients, who are not so famous as presidents or Nobel laureates, have had to pay money to get the award.
     Yao also sued NECO executive director Rosemarie Taglione.
     He claims the defendants informed him on Feb. 26, again on March 3, and a third time on March 8, that he would receive the award on May 10, after a “black tie gala” the night before. The defendants also informed the media of his award, he says.
     On May 5, Yao says, they demanded the money. He refused to pay, and on May 6 they withdrew the honor, he says. “(P)laintiff as a recipient of the Medal of Honor was replaced by another individual who actually paid $15,000 to NECO,” the complaint states.
     Yao demands millions of dollars for emotional distress, fraud and misrepresentation, breach of promise and promissory estoppel. He is represented in Queens County Court by Charles Spraggins of Flushing.

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