CHICAGO (CN) – The director of a Chicago-based charity appears to have spent more than $350,000 in contributions on himself, including more than $200,000 from ATMs at casinos or in direct payments to casinos, the Illinois attorney general says.
Illinois sued the Organization of New City and its executive director Rudolph Harper, in Cook County Court.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan claims that Harper spent more than $350,000 of public and private charitable donations, primarily by writing checks to himself or casinos, and making cash ATM withdrawals – mostly at casinos.
The Organization of New City told its donors it would use their money to “(a) ‘help people who cannot pay their bills’; (b) help struggling families experiencing the loss of their homes through foreclosure’; and (c) address issues of utilities, housing and safety concerns that disproportionately impact the elderly in the Chicago Metropolitan Area,'” the complaint states.
“During the period January 1, 2008 through March 8, 2012, defendant ONC solicited and received at least $322,000 in public support, contributions, and program service revenue,” according to the complaint.
The group was registered as an Illinois charity through June 2011, but when it failed to file annual reports for 2008-2010, its registration was canceled, Madigan says.
When the state investigated, it found that “ONC Account bank records for the period January 1, 2008 through March 8, 2012 show that, of the $354,655 deposited into the seven ONC Accounts as aforesaid, at least $342,520 of such ONC charitable monies were expended on questionable uses that appear unrelated to ONC’s represented charitable purposes of helping the poor and needy, and which instead appear to be for Harper’s and/or others’ own personal benefit.:
The complaint adds: “(O)f the aforesaid $342,520 in questionable ONC expenses that appear to be for Harper’s and/or others’ own personal benefit, (a) $177,265 was expended by defendant Harper personally from the six ONC accounts over which he had sole and/or joint signature authority by, among other things, paying such to cash, ATM cash withdrawals (mostly at ATMs located at gambling casinos), direct payments to casinos, and direct payments to Harper himself; (b) $65,767 was expended apparently to Harper’s and/or other’s personal benefit by paying such to cash, by ATM cash withdrawals at ATMs located a gambling casinos, by direct payments to casinos, and by direct payments to Harper himself; (c) $87,923 was expended to pay for Harper’s and/or others’ apparently personal charges at various businesses, including payments to non-ONC credit cards, restaurants, stores, parking lots, gas stations, life insurance companies, cable companies; and (d) $11,565 was expended to pay bank overdraft fees/insufficient fund penalties.”
Madigan seeks an injunction, an accounting, fines, punitive damages and costs of the investigation.