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Operator of Amish-Education Nonprofit Accused of Misusing Charitable Funds

2/2/2018

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a lawsuit against a man accused of misusing over $168,000 in charitable funds from a nonprofit created to provide education about Amish culture in America. 

The Attorney General’s lawsuit says Kenneth Lawton used his nonprofit, the Florian K. Lawton Foundation, as a pass-through entity to hide personal income and assets. He is accused of using over $168,000 from the foundation’s bank account to pay for personal expenses between 2010 and 2014.

The Florian K. Lawton Foundation’s stated purpose was to provide “continued education through an array of programs with university and museums about the Amish culture here in America,” but investigators with the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section found that the foundation failed to provide such programming. Instead, the lawsuit says, Lawton used the foundation to evade personal liability for his own private contracts.

“Our investigation found that the defendant was using the charity’s money as if it were his own,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We’re seeking an order to prevent this individual from operating or soliciting for a charity in Ohio.”

Lawton operated the foundation in Aurora, Ohio, at the time in question, but he now lives in Mattapoisett, Mass., according to the lawsuit.
 
The Attorney General accuses Lawton of violating Ohio charitable laws. In the lawsuit, filed in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, the Attorney General seeks damages, civil penalties, and a permanent injunction to prevent Lawton from holding any position as an officer, trustee, or employee of a nonprofit in Ohio and from soliciting for charitable purposes in Ohio.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section investigates suspected violations of the state’s charitable laws and pursues enforcement actions to protect Ohio donors. Those who suspect a charity scam or questionable fundraising activities should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.

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Media Contacts

Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Kate Hanson: 614-466-3840

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