Charity Head Accused of Converting Funds

     COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) — The head of an Ohio nonprofit took funds meant for at-risk youth and used it for his own personal gain, the state claims in court.
     Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine brought the lawsuit on July 13 against the United Young People Association, its executive director Timothy Ferguson, and another Ferguson-owned business, TGF Estate LLC.
     Abbreviating the association’s name, the 16-page complaint says Ferguson “converted large amounts of UYPA’s charitable funds to cash and used these funds for his own personal benefit.”
     The IRS granted the United Young People Association tax-exempt status in 2006.
     Its “stated charitable purpose is to ‘provide services to school aged students in program activities, such as mentoring, counseling and support groups, educational training in providing tutoring in math, reading and life skills, and employment training in teaching students how to get jobs … working with inner city youths, senior citizens, and individuals with disabilities,'” the complaint states.
     Ohio says the association was eligible to receive government contracts through the state Department of Administrative Services without a competitive bidding process because of its status as a qualified nonprofit.
     Since 2006, the association was awarded 37 government contracts, “primarily to provide janitorial and other similar services to government-owned facilities,” according to complaint.
     DeWine says the association made more than $2 million from these contracts.
     Throughout the years, “Ferguson used UYPA’s charitable assets to make payments on several parcels of land that [he] either purchased or is in the process of purchasing in his own name,” the complaint states.
     DeWine says Ferguson also bought or made payments on “two Harley Davidson motorcycles and two automobiles,” and he used the funds to pay utilities, legal fees and insurance for property in his name.
     UYPA’s other board members were allegedly complicit in the fraud.
     In addition to Ferguson, the complaint takes aim at UYPA board members Aesha Ferguson, Quincella Ferguson Harris and Melissa Carter.
     DeWine seeks to dissolve the charity, plus restitution and damages, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, conversion and common-law fraud.
     Calls to the charity’s offices went straight to voicemail.

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