Attorney general files complaint against charity

Organization says it helps ex-cons and their families cope emotionally and economically after prison release.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Feb 13, 2013

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today filed a complaint against the charitable organization Free Truth Enterprise, of Cincinnati, and several of its representatives, including founder and chief operating officer Regina Shields. The complaint charges violations of Ohio charitable law, including a breach of fiduciary duties and unjust enrichment.

In addition to the complaint, DeWine also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, which was signed today by Judge Beth A. Myers, of Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, and a preliminary injunction against the organization.

"Charitable organizations have to operate transparently and work to further their chosen mission," DeWine said. "We will continue to take action against those who fail to operate properly."

Free Truth Enterprise was incorporated in 2000 as a non-profit by Shields and her sister, Donita Shields, to help ex-offenders and their families cope emotionally and economically after offenders were released from prison.

An investigation of Free Truth Enterprise by the Attorney General's Office began following receipt of a complaint last September. The investigation found that  eight properties owned by Free Truth Enterprise officers or associates were given to the organization, though few deeds were ever filed with the Hamilton County Recorder's Office that would have given Free Truth Enterprise proper title to the properties. The officers and associates also continued to live in and collect rent on the properties.

Regina Shields also used these same properties as collateral to post bond for individuals charged with trafficking cocaine and heroin, though neither Shields nor Free Truth Enterprise held proper title to the properties, collectively valued at $1 million.

According to the complaint, the defendants also:

    * Failed to produce documents requested by the attorney general
    * Failed to maintain the organization's registration with the attorney general as a charitable trust established or active in Ohio
    * Did not file annual reports 2003-2008 and 2010-2011
    * Failed to conduct any programming relative to the organization's stated purpose

The attorney general seeks the dissolution of the organization and the distribution of any of its assets to other charitable organizations. In addition, DeWine also asks for proceeds raised or collected by the defendants for charitable purposes, and damages from defendants who personally benefitted at the expense of the charity's beneficiaries, to be distributed to other charitable organizations.

A copy of the complaint can be ready by clicking on the link below.

If anyone has any information about this organization or its members, please contact the Ohio Attorney General's Charitable Law Section at 614-466-3181.

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Brock Lee

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