NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow announced a settlement on Friday with an unregistered charitable organization that allegedly misused funds meant to save horses.

NJ Horse Angels, under terms of the settlement, has agreed to cease operations and pay up to $581,000 to resolve a lawsuit the New Jersey State Division of Consumer Affairs filed against it last December.

NJ Horse Angels allegedly solicited donations to save horses from being killed and then processed into pet food. NJ Horse Angels and its two trustees, Frank Wikoff and Sharon Catalano-Crumb, who live in Phillipsburg, N.J., agreed to repay $57,129 in misused donations to the Division of Consumer Affairs. The division will then donate the funds to registered non-profit horse rescue organizations.

The Charities Registration and Investigation Section of the Division of Consumer Affairs alleged that funds collected by NJ Horse Angels were used by Catalano-Crumb for trips to Atlantic City casinos, meals, personal shopping and pre-paid phone cards. Some of the donations were used for horse rescues.

Under terms of the settlement, NJ Horse Angels has agreed to cease operations and the two trustees are permanently barred from soliciting charitable donations in New Jersey.

In addition, the defendants must pay $23,299 in investigative costs. They will have $500,625 worth of civil penalties vacated after five years if they do not violate the terms of the settlement and make all repayments and investigative payments.

"This settlement requires repayment of misused donations and puts the monies to the rescue and care of horses, as donors intended," Dow said. "Just as important, the defendants are permanently enjoined from soliciting charitable donations."

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