Attorney General Cuomo Recovers $1,900,000 In Excessive Compensation From Morris Foundation
New York, NY (May 15, 2007) – New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement with the William T. Morris Foundation to settle allegations that its officers and directors improperly enriched and paid themselves excessive compensation. Under the agreement, $1.9 million will be restored to the charity to help it fulfill its grant-making obligations.
“Any not-for-profit corporation choosing to do business in the State of New York must abide by New York’s charitable laws,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Our goal is to help non-profit organizations flourish and meet their charitable mission. When board members violate the public trust by lining their own pockets, the good work of the organization is diminished.”
The agreement settles the Attorney General’s claims against Bruce A. August and the late Edward A. Antonelli, who were officers, directors and employees of the Foundation and overpaid themselves for managing the Foundation’s portfolio. Also settling the Attorney General’s claims against him is Wilmot F. Wheeler, who received excessive compensation for serving as a foundation director only. All of the directors and officers also received extravagant benefits from the Foundation. In addition to restoring funds to the Foundation, the agreement provides for reconstituting its board of directors.
The William T. Morris Foundation, a 50-year-old, Delaware charitable foundation doing business in New York, is a private grant-making philanthropic organization that supports primarily education, arts and health care. Private foundations are tax-exempt charitable not-for-profit corporations or trusts that are funded by one person or a small number of persons. The Attorney General’s role in overseeing private foundations operating in New York preserves these charitable assets for their proper purposes.
The Attorney General’s investigation of other foundation officers and directors who were not party to the settlement continues. The matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Barbara L. Quint under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Robert Pigott, Bureau Chief of the Charities Bureau.