Bryan Cohen Mar. 1, 2013, 6:39pm

NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced Thursday that a court approved temporary restraints against a purported Superstorm Sandy charity to preserve the money and items donated to date.

Chiesa filed a lawsuit Feb. 21 against the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation and its operators, Christina Terraccino and John Sandberg, for allegedly transferring $13,596.53 of donations into personal accounts. Under the terms of the temporary restraints, the defendants will place about $631,000 and any future donations into an interest bearing attorneys' escrow account and will deposit $13,596.53 into the escrow account to make up for the personal account transfer.

"The temporary restraints we sought, and the court approved, will ensure the donations made to date are preserved and maintained until a final resolution of the state's complaint," Chiesa said. "This is an important step toward ensuring that these donations go toward aiding Sandy victims as this organization represented to donors."

The state also requested and achieved the preservation of the rest of the approximately $400,000 in donated items now stored in a warehouse along with unused gift cards. The court ordered that the items be donated to a registered charitable organization.

The court also ordered the defendants to post notices on the HSRF websites that the foundation is not a tax-exempt organization and that it filed an application to obtain such status, to remove a website page that connects the HSRF with the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, and to preserve all records of donor names and contact information.

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