SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - A local council president sued the California director of LULAC, accusing him of forgery, diverting money to himself, refusing to account for it, suppressing votes and other abuses.
Kathy Jurado, president of the Long Beach-San Pedro council, sued Benigno "Benny" Diaz Jr., California director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, in Orange County Superior Court.
Jurado, suing on behalf of the California LULAC organization and its members, claims Diaz has been breaching his fiduciary duties since he was elected president in 2010.
According to the sparse details on its website, California LULAC "addresses issues of society's injustices and discriminatory practices" against Latinos in the state.
Diaz says on the website that LULAC "needs to have a strong presence to defend our brothers and sisters against bigotry and racism with the embracement of love, compassion and care."
But Jurado says in her 6-page lawsuit that Diaz's own actions have made those lofty goals impossible for California LULAC - especially since the group's tax-exempt status was suspended by the Franchise Tax Board in 2010 for failing to file required paperwork.
"Defendant Diaz owed LULAC and its members the highest duty of loyalty and honesty," Jurado says in the lawsuit. "He conspired to breach his fiduciary duties to LULAC and its members, including but not limited to the following manner:
"a. Forged signatures to create councils in an effort to increase the number of voters for the state and national election of 2013;
"b. Failed to comply with the state nonprofit statutes as an IRS 501(c)(3) corporation, thus impairing the ability of California LULAC state organization to continue its existence as a nonprofit organization and impairing fundraising for LULAC;
"c. Failed and refused to provide any accounting as to funds received and the subsequent disposition of those funds;
"d. Diverted funds from California LULAC state organization for his personal use;
"e. Failed and refused to provide confirmation of plaintiffs' LULAC status as a valid IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation;
"f. Failed and refused to provide funds donated for the LULAC annual convention for 2014, in violation of LULAC's constitution and bylaws;
"g. Improperly removed or attempted to remove duly elected officers and board members from the state board;
"h. Failed to properly create and preserve accurate board minutes and to make such minutes available for inspection;
"i. Created private for-profit LULAC foundations and other nonprofits using donations received from fundraising intended for LULAC to compete with LULAC;
"j. Engaged in voter suppression and disenfranchisement to alter the results of elections;
"k. Had non-board members and non-officers sign a consent decree with the attorney general of the state of California without the knowledge of the board members or officers, thus jeopardizing the existence of California LULAC state organization."
Jurado claims Diaz's conduct has racked up at least $50,000 in damage to California LULAC, and that his "willful, intentional and malicious" actions entitle the group to exemplary damages.
She is represented by R. Duane Westrop of Long Beach.
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