(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a lawsuit against the director of the now-defunct Pen Ohio for using the charity to enrich himself.
The lawsuit alleges that Thomas Merrill, director of Pen Ohio, falsified documents, approved his own compensation and threatened board members when confronted about his activities
“Pen Ohio was an inspiring idea meant to challenge the great young writers in Ohio, but it was poisoned by greed and ego,” Yost said. “Now, we’ve put pen to paper and submitted our work to a judge.”
An investigation by Yost’s Charitable Law Section alleges that Merrill used $110,000 of charitable funds for his own benefit without the governing board’s approval, abused a charitable trust and breached his fiduciary duties.
The lawsuit seeks to:
- Enjoin Merrill from creating, working for, or soliciting for charities;
- Impose a constructive trust over all assets or funds unjustly or illegally received or retained by Merrill and his for-profit company;
- Order Merrill to pay restitution and compensatory damages
- Order Merrill to pay the Attorney General civil penalties.
Pen Ohio was voluntarily dissolved in May 2019.
AG Yost has created a one-stop website for charities in Ohio to help them navigate good governance and establish proper protocols to prevent problems.