Bryan Cohen Sep. 18, 2013, 6:15pm

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) -- Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said Tuesday his office has filed a lawsuit against the former executive director of a now-defunct charity over allegations that she misappropriated charitable funds.

Karen Lewis, the former executive director of the Hartford-based South Arsenal Neighborhood Development Inc., allegedly used SAND's ATM/debit card to withdraw charitable funds to make purchases at two casinos, multiple retail stores and to pay a personal credit card bill.

Lewis allegedly misappropriated more than $200,000 in charitable funds, Jepsen said.

"The behavior we allege in this complaint represents a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of an individual who had a responsibility to protect charitable funds," the attorney general said in a statement.

"These funds were intended to support the Arsenal neighborhood, but were instead used by Ms. Lewis for her personal gain. This conduct simply will not be tolerated."

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against Lewis holding any office, directorship or position of employment or any association with a Connecticut charitable organization where she would have control of the funds or authorization over their distribution.

The suit also seeks civil penalties and the forfeiture of all misappropriated funds.

Connecticut law requires that assets intended for charitable use remain to the uses and purposes for which the assets were granted.

Jepsen's office is required by state law to protect any legacies and gifts meant for charitable or public purposes.

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