CINCINNATI (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a Cincinnati-area charitable organization and several of its principals for allegedly violating Ohio charitable law.
Free Truth Enterprise and Regina Shields, the organization's founder and CEO, allegedly breached fiduciary duties and engaged in unjust enrichment. DeWine also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order which was signed on Tuesday by Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Beth A. Myers.
Additionally, DeWine filed a preliminary injunction against the organization.
"Charitable organizations have to operate transparently and work to further their chosen mission," DeWine said. "We will continue to take action against those who fail to operate properly."
Shields and her sister, Donita Shields, incorporated Free Truth Enterprise in 2000 as a non-profit to help ex-offenders and their families cope economically and emotionally after offenders were released from prison.
DeWine's office alleged that eight properties owned by Free Truth Enterprise officers or associates were given to the organization, most of which without deeds being filed with the Hamilton County Recorder's Office. The officers and associates allegedly continued to live in and collect rent on the properties. Regina Shields also allegedly used the properties as collateral to post bond for individuals charged with trafficking heroin and cocaine, despite neither Shields nor Free Truth Enterprise holding proper title to the properties.
DeWine is seeking the dissolution of Free Truth Enterprise and the distribution of its assets to other charitable organization. The lawsuit also asks for proceeds collected or raised by the defendants for charitable purposes and damages from defendants who benefitted personally at the expense of the charity's beneficiaries to be distributed to other charities.