June 27, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Animal rescue group’s nonprofit status on hold

A local nonprofit that bounced a check made out to another charity allowed its nonprofit paperwork to expire last month.

Medina County Animals Rescue and Evacuation collected money raised from the county commissioners’ charity ball in January and agreed to distribute the funds raised to other local charities in the county. Five charities received checks from CARE without incident, but the Lodi Railroad Museum received a check last month that bounced.

“The funds were put into the wrong account,” said Aliss Strogen of Medina County CARE. “It’s been corrected and a correct check has been sent to them.”

Medina CARE registered as a nonprofit in 2008 with chapters in Lorain, Medina and Summit counties. However, its status with the secretary of state’s office is listed on hold because the group’s registration expired June 11.

According to a rules handbook for Ohio charities published by state Attorney General Mike DeWine, charitable groups must renew their status every five years.

A search of the charity on the secretary of state’s website showed a notice reminding the group to file paperwork to continue as a nonprofit was sent to CARE founder Tracy LaPlante of Elyria in February.

A notice of cancellation was sent June 18 to LaPlante. Contact information for LaPlante couldn’t be found.

Lori Kossick, of the Summit County chapter, said it’s possible LaPlante no longer may be serving in a role with the organization. Kossick said she will be working with active members to resolve the issue.

Joanne Slorgie, a trustee of the railroad museum, said she doesn’t want her organization to cash the check until she’s sure it’s appropriate to receive money from CARE.

Slorgie filed a report with Lodi police and spoke with the state’s attorney general’s office.

A spokeswoman for DeWine’s office said she couldn’t comment on specific investigations but said anyone who suspects charity fraud should contact the attorney general’s office.

In response to Slorgie’s criticism, county Commissioner Pat Geissman on Tuesday said commissioners have agreed to set up their own nonprofit corporation to dispense the money raised at the ball and has begun the paperwork to create a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Because commissioners never established a nonprofit corporation to handle their charity fundraiser, they designated CARE to distribute the money raised.

The 15th annual charity ball raised more than $23,000 from sponsorships and tickets sold to the Jan. 18 event at Weymouth Country Club.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com. Follow her on Twitter @lorengenson.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.