NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a civil lawsuit on Friday against the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York and its affiliated charity for allegedly using donor money for personal expenses.
Kelli Conlin, the former president of NARAL and the National Institute for Reproductive Health, allegedly abused her position and siphoned more than $250,000 in charitable funds for her own benefit.
During her tenure as president, Conlin allegedly used charitable funds to pay for personal travel, the salary of her children's nanny, dining expenses, shopping sprees at Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman, the rental of a five bedroom Hamptons vacation home and thousands of dollars worth of take-out meals.
Conlin was the president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York and its charitable foundation between 1992 and January 2011. She allegedly perpetuated her scheme by falsifying expense reports to conceal the personal nature of the expenses, maintaining strict control over outside consultants who kept the books and intimidating staff members for the organization who questioned her expense habits.
According to IRS forms, Conlin allegedly grew her total compensation steadily until it reached close to $380,000 in 2010. Conlin also allegedly charged more than $75,000 for retail purchases with no business purpose, including close to $50,000 for designer shoes and clothes bought at luxury stores like Giorgio Armani, Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys. The purchases were allegedly described as business-related expenses to NARAL's board.
Conlin also allegedly charged NARAL's charitable foundation $17,000 for a house rental in the Hamptons, $26,000 for personal travel, $18,500 for personal hotel expenses and more than $70,000 for car services, including at least $44,000 to transport Conlin's children from their Brooklyn home to their Upper West Side Manhattan school. In 2008 and 2009, Conlin allegedly arranged for the foundation to pay at least $12,200 of her nanny's salary, despite there being no charitable purpose for the expenditure.
Conlin allegedly caused the charitable foundation to pay no less than $50,000 in non-business related and unauthorized meals, including take-out dinners and extravagant meals at high-end restaurants. She allegedly spent no less than $9,600 on meals from restaurants near her home, including 120 meals from a local sushi restaurant.
In 2011, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., secured a felony guilty plea from Conlin in relation to her alleged misconduct under New York state criminal law and she was ordered to pay $75,000 in restitution. Schneiderman's office seeks to remedy Conlin's alleged violations of New York charity laws and seeks to hold Conlin completely accountable for her alleged misconduct, require her to pay damages and restitution, and permanently bar her from serving as a director or operator of a not-for-profit organization registered or incorporated in the state of New York.