(CLEVELAND) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced an agreement with Teen USA and Darien E. Smith of Cleveland to cease charitable solicitations in Ohio and to pay $10,000 to the Attorney General’s office. Through the organization, teens went door-to-door selling candy but the money was not used for charitable purposes.
“Those who manage charitable funds are obligated to make sure that donations are used for their designated purpose,” Attorney General DeWine said. “In light of this case, we encourage any Ohioans who receive a questionable solicitation to contact our office.”
According to the agreement, Teen USA was registered as a nonprofit with the Ohio Secretary of State with a stated purpose of “fundraising for low income individuals, sports teams, and schools.”
The Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section discovered that Darien Smith misappropriated funds while running the organization from 2010 to 2013. He solicited teenagers to sell candy for $5 to $6 a piece and allowed the teens to keep some of the money for themselves while also keeping a portion for himself.
Under the agreement, an Assurance of Discontinuance, Smith agrees to pay $10,000 to the Attorney General’s Office. He also agrees to dissolve Teen USA and not to hold any position in or participate in soliciting donations for any charitable organization in Ohio.
In a similar agreement, the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Discontinuance in October with Julie J. James of Uniontown, Ohio, a former treasurer of the Bourn Dance Competition Team. According to the agreement, James collected $22,082.48 for charitable purposes but used the money for personal expenses. James has repaid $22,082.48 to the Bourn Dance Competition Team and agrees not to hold any position in or participate in soliciting donations for any charitable organization in Ohio.
For information about a charity or to file a complaint against a questionable organization, individuals should contact the Attorney General's Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Kate Hanson: 614-466-3840