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N.Y. AG obtains $950,000 settlement from allegedly self-dealing National Arts Club leaders

By Bryan Cohen | Jul 10, 2013

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a $950,000 settlement Wednesday with the former president of the National Arts Club to resolve allegations of self-dealing and breach of fiduciary duty.

Aldon James allegedly took advantage of his position as president of the New York City-based National Arts Club by commandeering more than a dozen apartments, offices and rentable club spaces and using club funds for personal expenses. The settlement also resolves outstanding litigation between the club and James, his brother John James and their colleague, Steven Leitner.

"After 100 years, the National Arts Club remains one of New York's important cultural institutions," Schneiderman said. "Today's settlement allows the club to close the door on years of bitter discord and start to recover from the havoc that Aldon James and his cohorts wrought. The message is clear: Those who abuse nonprofits for personal gain will be held accountable by my office."

Aldon James and his brother John James allegedly used apartments obtained through the club for years without paying rent. Aldon James also allegedly improperly removed $274,000 from the Kesselring Fund, an endowment meant to support the dramatic arts. James allegedly used the fund to restore the façade of the club building.

Under the terms of the settlement, the club will receive $900,000 and Schneiderman's office will receive $50,000 for court and attorney costs.

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