Attorney General Ellison secures $66,000 to benefit foster children and a permanent charitable-sector ban against directors of Minnesota nonprofit A Place to Call Home
Settlements require Genevieve LaVoi to repay $66,000 in charitable assets she misused from foster care support charity A Place to Call Home, permanently ban LaVoi and former directors from operating a charity in Minnesota
September 23, 2021 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has filed three settlement agreements in Ramsey County District Court requiring Genevieve LaVoi, a board member of the charity A Place to Call Home (“APCH”), to pay back $66,000 in charitable funds that she used for her personal benefit. The settlements also permanently ban LaVoi and two former APCH directors, Renee LaVoi and Thomas Gray, from operating a charity, having access to charitable assets, or soliciting charitable contributions in Minnesota. Genevieve LaVoi is also subject to an additional penalty of over $60,000 if she violates her settlement. In addition, APCH must liquidate its assets, distribute them to a Minnesota-based charity that benefits foster children, and dissolve its operations.
“It’s the Attorney General’s job to make sure charities use donations and public assets only their charitable purpose. But Instead of using the donations made to APCH to help foster children, LaVoi used the money to buy herself a house, make home improvements, and pay her mortgage,” said Attorney General Ellison. “Taking money from children to buy things for yourself is inexcusable: it doesn’t just hurt children, it hurts every Minnesotan who puts their trust in charities. This settlement ensures the money intended for children will go to them, and ensures these people can never do anything like this again.”
The Attorney General’s Office launched this investigation under Minnesota’s nonprofit corporation statutes, which require nonprofit directors to adhere to strict fiduciary duties and spend nonprofit funds in accordance with the organization’s charitable mission. The settlements allege that LaVoi, as a director of APCH, used $127,000 of charitable assets for her personal benefit despite APCH’s mission to “assist in the funding of foster homes and other facilities providing housing, care, and nurturance to children.” The majority of the misappropriated funds were used to purchase LaVoi’s home, make upgrades to the home, and pay LaVoi’s mortgage. The settlements further allege that the other two APCH board members, Renee LaVoi and Thomas Gray, authorized Genevieve LaVoi’s conduct.
In Minnesota, nonprofit executives must act in the best interests of the charities that they serve, including putting the interests of the nonprofit above any personal financial interests. The AGO has additional information about these fiduciary duties, as well as other resources to help nonprofit leaders properly serve their organizations, on its website at www.ag.state.mn.us/Charity/InfoNonProfits.asp. You may also submit an online complaint form on the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.state.mn.us/Office/Complaint.asp if you would like to report an incident regarding nonprofit directors putting their own interests before the charities’ interests. For additional information, you may also contact the Attorney General’s Office, as follows:
Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101
(651) 296-3353 (Twin Cities Calling Area)
(800) 657-3787 (Outside the Twin Cities)
(800) 627-3529 (Minnesota Relay)