WHEATON, Ill. (CN) – A nonprofit agency for foster kids fired the manager of its adoption department for blowing the whistle on the CEO’s use of company money to make a movie with his “paramour,” the former manager says. Cynthia Jasionowski sued Our Children’s Homestead Foundation and its CEO Robert Geniesse in DuPage County Court.
Jasionowski claims that Geniesse, founder and CEO of the nonprofit, became “extremely upset” with her when she raised the issue of whether he had used Foundation money on his own film company, Reverse Momentum Films.
Jasionowski claims that she was working as manager of the nonprofit’s adoption department, when, in 2009, “Geniesse and his paramour, Inga Howe, founded and operated their own film company named ‘Reverse Momentum Films’ (RMF).”
Jasionowski claims that Geniesse and Howe – who is not a party to the complaint – “traveled to both the Philippines and to Kenya during 2009 to produce films for RMF.”
Their movie about poverty in The Philippines was called “I Am You,” according to the complaint.
Jasionowski claims that Geniesse and Howe “enlisted assistance of associates and volunteers for RMF who, as part of their work being performed by RMF, were authorized by Geniesse to use OCH credit card to book hotels, rental cars, purchase camera lenses and other expenses.”
Jasionowski claims that on May 15, 2009, she “learned from three associates of RMF that Geniesse misappropriated OCH funds to pay RMF expenses. These RMF associated also notified Jasionoski that when they questioned the ethics of using OCH funds for RMF expenses, their association with RMF was terminated.”
Jasionowski says that five days later she confronted a supervisor at the nonprofit about the situation and that the woman “became visibly upset” and ended the conversation.
Jasionowski says that the very next day, she was called into a meeting with Geniesse and Howe, where she told them that she was aware that they had used company money to fund the RFM excursion. She claims that Howe later sent her a text message that stated: “Just do me one favour: be loyal to Bob! Because talking to Lauren and spreading wrong accusations is the opposite of loyal.”
The next week she was fired, Jasionowski says. She says Geniesse handed her a release agreement, which she refused to sign.
That evening or the next one, Jasionowski says, she received a phone call from a former co-worker who said that Geniesse had phoned her, sounding “as if he were drunk.” The co-worker said that Geniesse was “extremely upset” and “afraid he could lose his job and lose the agency,” according to the complaint.
According to its website, Our Children’s Homestead Foundation provides “support and permanent homes for ‘uniquely challenged’ children,” who are 10 years or older, primarily minorities.
Jasionowski says that she always had received excellent performance reviews for her work at Our Children’s Homestead Foundation before being fired.
She demands damages for retaliatory discharge and tortious interference.
She is represented by Glenn Gaffney with Gaffney & Gaffney of Glendale Heights, Ill.