Waveland charity ordered to stop raising money - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Waveland charity ordered to stop raising money

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) -

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - An organization that's helped hundreds of Hancock County residents rebuild from Katrina has been ordered to stop breaking the law.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann on Thursday cited the Waveland Citizens Fund for violating Mississippi's Charitable Solicitations Act. The group's charitable registration has expired and a "Cease and Desist Order" issued Thursday means the organization cannot raise money right now.

"Strong oversight of charities operating in the State is essential to providing peace-of-mind to our citizens. We want Mississippians to have faith in whom they choose to donate their hard earned dollars," Secretary Hosemann said in a statement. "When our agency suspects a violation of the Mississippi Charitable Solicitations Act, we will take action."

The alleged violations center on the woman in charge of Waveland Citizens Fund: Kathleen Johnson The Secretary of State alleges Johnson, listed as a "volunteer" on state charity records, is really an employee; with her living expenses paid by the charity.

The state also noted record keeping problems and said allowing Johnson, a convicted felon, access to organization funds violates state law.

If the alleged violations are admitted or proven, the Secretary of State's Office may: 

  • Order Waveland Citizens Fund to Cease and Desist from further illegal activity in the State of Mississippi; 
  • Revoke the registration of Waveland Citizens Fund; 
  • Impose an administrative penalty of up to $25,000 for each offense.

Waveland Citizens Fund has 30 days to request an administrative hearing in this matter with the Secretary of State's office. If a hearing is requested, the agency will schedule an open hearing accordingly. If a hearing is not requested within the 30 day time frame, a final cease and desist order revoking the registration of the charity and imposing administrative penalties may be issued in the case.

The investigation into the group and Johnson is not new. In 2007, the Secretary of State's office notified Waveland Citizens Fund of bookkeeping problems and said it could not have a convicted felon as an employee, officer or director.

WLOX News left a message for Kathleen Johnson for a comment, but she has not responded.

Click here to read the court documents and a statement from the Secretary of State.

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