For Immediate Release
October 7, 2009
Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael DeLucia
Attorney General Michael A. Delaney today announced that an agreement has been reached with Autos for Animals, a fundraising organization, and its owner, Paul St. Louis in the matter of The Director of Charitable Trusts vs. Animals, LLC and Paul St. Louis, filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court. This case was brought by the Attorney General's Charitable Trusts Unit after receiving complaints from donors alleging that St. Louis, acting as a paid solicitor raising money for charitable purposes, failed to pay the proceeds from the sales of donated cars to the charity specified by the car donors. Further allegations included that they failed to register with the Director of Charitable Trusts, failed to post the required surety bond, failed to file notices for each fund-raising campaign conducted, and failed to file a joint financial report at the end of each campaign as required by State Law. Autos for Animals and Mr. St. Louis disputed the allegations claiming that its business operations were distinct from those of a paid solicitor and asserted that it had paid the net proceeds to designated charities.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement Autos for Animals agrees it will obtain prior written permission from each Humane Society or charitable entity whose name it intends to use on its Web site, in its written materials, or in its advertisements and solicitations and will provide copies of any such written permission to the Director of Charitable Trusts within ten days after such permission is granted.
Additionally, the Autos for Animals' Web site must clearly state what each charitable organization will receive as the "net proceeds" from any sale of a donated vehicle, after reasonable deductions have been taken for auto repairs, and the cost of selling the vehicle. Autos for Animals must also provide the Director of Charitable Trusts with an annual written report indicating the amount of net proceeds that it provided to each charitable organization during the previous calendar year.
The Parties also agreed that the terms of the settlement shall not be construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing on the part of Autos for Animals or St. Louis. "We are satisfied with this settlement because it goes a long way in protecting the rights of charitable donors to ensure their donations go for the purposes they intend", Attorney General Delaney said.
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