Richard Blumenthal (D)
HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Thursday announced a lawsuit against a children's charity and its owner over allegations of fraud.
The lawsuit targets Raymond Bechard, the sole operator of Ahava Kids, a charity that supposedly serves victims of human trafficking and orphaned children with AIDS, over allegations Bechard diverted over $100,000 in funds for personal or inexplicable expenses at restaurants, department stores, grocery stores and sporting goods stores.
The state-led investigation also revealed questionable expenses on gasoline, unexplained ATM cash withdrawals and money transferred from Ahava Kids to four Old Saybrook companies solely owned by Bechard, according to Blumenthal.
"We seek repayment and penalties for this alleged deceitful diversion that deprived the most vulnerable victims of vital help including victims of human trafficking, and children born with AIDS," Blumenthal said in a statement.
"Almost half of the $250,000 raised through Ahava Kids over recent years in the name of human trafficking and orphaned AIDS children has been misspent and squandered."
According to the state, Disciple Makers Workshop, Son Celebration, Gift Catalog Online and Compel Communications are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Ahava Kids claims to help victims of human trafficking by operating hotline and safe houses (one in Connecticut and one in Georgia), and by reportedly working in the streets to reach out to prostitutes, as well as help medical funding for victims of AIDS.