Home Nonprofit organization DC AG Karl Racine seeks to block Casa Ruby’s access to bank accounts

DC AG Karl Racine seeks to block Casa Ruby’s access to bank accounts

0

Comment

DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine seeks temporary restraining order against Casa Ruby to freeze the LGBTQ nonprofit’s financial accounts and prevent founder Ruby Corado from making further withdrawals, filings Monday on the DC Superior Court show.

Last month, a Washington Post report raised questions about possible financial mismanagement at the nonprofit. The report was based on interviews with former employees, court records, tax returns and thousands of emails sent and received by DC Department of Human Services officials obtained through a public records request.

Casa Ruby closed most of its operations in July. It grossed over $4.1 million in grants and other income on his latest federal tax returns, which showed Corado earned $260,000. But employees say they left without pay, and at least four landlords told city agencies the nonprofit hadn’t paid rent on properties it rented across the city for its low-barrier shelters and its transitional housing programs.

Casa Ruby shuts down rest of its operations and workers go unpaid

Corado did not respond to phone calls or emails from The Post, but she told a Telemundo reporter last week that she was in El Salvador and had done nothing wrong. Although Corado resigned as executive director last fall, employees told city officials and the Post that she retained sole control of the nonprofit’s bank accounts.

“Casa Ruby’s operations suggest clear patterns of gross mismanagement and poor oversight of its programs and finances,” Racine said in a statement. “Instead of fulfilling its important mission of providing transitional housing and support for LGBTQ+ youth, Casa Ruby has diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars in district grants and charitable donations from their purpose. Their executive director appears to have fled the country, withdrawn at least tens of thousands of dollars from nonprofit funds, and failed to pay employees and vendors money rightfully owed to them. Upon hearing of the suspicious circumstances surrounding its collapse, our office immediately began investigating and is using our broad authority over nonprofits in the district to protect the organization’s assets and hold its leaders accountable.

Bowser on Casa Ruby’s closure: ‘We need to figure out what happened’

Since 2016, Casa Ruby has received $9.6 million in grants from city agencies to meet the needs of the district’s Latino and LGBTQ+ youth communities. Last fall, the Department of Health and Human Services refused to renew an $839,460 grant to Casa Ruby to run a low-barrier shelter.

The shelter, which at the time housed at least 10 young people, closed in September, but the association continued to run other programs, including one for victims of crime and another for asylum seekers. , until last month. And the city continued to finance the association. Since October, four DC agencies — DHS, the Mayor’s Office for Latin American Affairs, the Department of Health, and the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants — have paid Casa Ruby a total of $802 $147, according to a city contract database.

The mayor’s office for Latin American affairs stopped releasing grants in February, but the other three agencies continued to make payments, according to the database. The Office of Victim Services, for example, paid Casa Ruby more than $13,000 in July. That money would cover more than the monthly salaries of employees who ran Casa Ruby’s victim services department, said manager Kisha Allure, but Allure and her assistant, Kiara Goode, went six weeks without receiving a paycheck. The two told the Post they don’t know how they will cover their bills next month.

Allure said the GA announcement “makes me feel like someone actually cares, that my city and my government cares about the livelihoods and equality of all people, that they are trans or whoever. However, my monthly bills and my livelihood are still at stake.”

Although the nonprofit listed a board of directors on its federal tax returns, the AG’s office found that between 2012 and 2020 the board “apparently never met and ‘He did not generate any records or minutes to document any action’.

According to the AG office, Casa Ruby board members Jack Harrison-Quintana, Meredith Zoltick, and Hassan Naveed resigned via email on September 29, 2021, February 23, 2022, and April 24, 2022, respectively. . All remaining members of the Board of Directors are inactive.

In addition to asking the court to freeze Casa Ruby’s accounts, the attorney general’s complaint asks the court to appoint a court-supervised official to stabilize and reform the association’s management, and calls for a “fair accounting of records.” for the association’s finances, “because they have had no meaningful oversight for years,” Racine said in his statement. Racine also asked the court to impose a trust or other remedy to regain control of any money Corado may have improperly obtained.

Casa Ruby, shelter for LGBTQ youth, loses DC government funding

According to the attorney general’s office, Corado’s control over the association’s finances was “almost absolute”. He said she was the only current signatory on the association’s bank accounts and had access to its PayPal account, which processes all donations made to Casa Ruby through its website. Starting at least 2021, the AG said, Corado has withdrawn tens of thousands of dollars from Casa Ruby’s accounts, and it withdrew at least $604 as recently as July 19.

“Even employees with significant responsibilities in Casa Ruby’s business could not spend any of Casa Ruby’s funds without the express permission of Corado,” Racine’s office said.

The AG’s office also said Corado used and continued to spend Casa Ruby’s money without the knowledge or involvement of other officials and without the oversight of the organization’s board of directors for the purpose. non-profit. He said that throughout 2021, Corado used more than $60,000 of Casa Ruby funds to pay bills from a payment card it controlled. The AG’s office discovered that Corado had used Casa Ruby funds to pay for meals and transportation expenses to and within El Salvador.

In court filings, the AG’s office said it was still investigating “the full extent of the abuse” but that “significant nonprofit funds were used to enable Corado to travel, live, and eat in El Salvador, as well as pay charges on a credit card she controlled that were never reviewed or approved by the organization’s board of directors.”