COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced an agreement Thursday with CTS Charisma Tropical Sun Inc. to stop allegedly illegal solicitation and charitable trust activities in the state.
CTS, also known as Ohio Helps, operated approximately 600 vending boxes used to sell lollipops in retail locations across the state. The boxes listed the charities American Forests and Pollution Solution. CTS claimed it would support the charities with money raised from the vending boxes. Pollution Solution and American Forests were not aware their names were being used and allegedly received few, if any, of the proceeds.
"Ohioans have a right to expect charities operating in our state to comply with the law and to be accountable," DeWine said. "CTS failed to meet those standards."
Jeffrey Kuntz, the founder of CTS, failed to register the organization as a charitable trust with DeWine's office or meet requirements for reporting before soliciting charitable contributions.
Under the terms of an assurance of discontinuance, CTS must stop all charitable trust and solicitation activities in the state that violate Ohio law and must provide proof to DeWine's office that proceeds were distributed to legitimate charities. If the organization cannot provide proof, it must pay $7,000 to DeWine's office. The money would be distributed for charitable purposes similar to what CTA claimed to represent.
Kuntz explained his actions in an email to Legal Newsline.
"There are some procedures in Ohio that I honestly wasn't aware of when it comes to charitable donations from businesses," he wrote. "That said, from the period of February 2011 to March 2013, I've contributed $2,669 to American Forests and there's more in the works that will be contributed in the next three or four months. It turns out that for our type of business operation you cannot simply give money to a charity, but instead you must have contracts in place.
"About a year ago, for a short period, I did not follow the framework required in Ohio. However upon realizing my error I immediately corrected the mistake and have since entered in to a formal charitable support agreement with American Forests. At the end of the day, it was an honest mistake, and I apologize for it. American Forests has planted over 43 million trees to date, and I'm proud to have played a small role in supporting the great work they do."