Attorney General James Announces Settlement With Oneonta Elks To Reimburse Misused Trust Funds 

Attorney General James Announces Settlement With Oneonta Elks To Reimburse Misused Trust Funds 

Elks used charitable assets entrusted to its care to cover operating shortfalls and capital improvements  

ONEONTA -- Today, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a settlement with Oneonta Lodge No. 1312 Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, Inc. (“Oneonta Elks”) over their wrongful use of charitable assets. As part of the settlement, the Oneonta Elks are required to repay those funds, which the organization was given to administer for charitable purposes.  Between February 2009 and December 2014, the Oneonta Elks received over $480,000 from the estate of a benefactor whose last will and testament directed that the funds be used to help the needs of children, people with disabilities, and the elderly. After an investigation, the Attorney General’s Office determined that the Oneonta Elks repeatedly appropriated and expended almost $170,000 to pay for capital improvements to its lodge building and property, as well as covering general operating expenses, rather than for the purposes for which it was intended.  

“No organization in New York will get away with wrongfully using assets intended for charitable purposes,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Rather than using these funds to support our vulnerable communities as they were intended, the Oneonta Elks used them for cosmetic improvements to their lodge. We will continue to root out any and all breaches of our charities law.” 

For example, the Oneonta Elks used the money to pay outstanding real estate taxes, roof repairs/replacement, and driveway paving at its lodge. As a part of the agreement, the Oneonta Elks has agreed to turn over all of the remaining funds it received from the estate to the New York State Elks Association Major Projects Corporation, Inc. (“Major Projects”), a New York State registered charity, that will now administer the trust funds. The Oneonta Elks will also repay $169,162 to the trust by making an $88,000 lump sum payment, and monthly payments thereafter until all of money has been returned.  

New York law requires those holding charitable funds to strictly use them for the benefit of those to whom the money was intended to benefit. Charitable funds may not be diverted for any other purpose. This settlement ensures that the money will be used in the manner intended by the person making the gift. 

The case was handled by Michael J. Danaher, Jr., Assistant Attorney General of the Binghamton Regional Office with the assistance of Carl DiStefano Assistant Attorney General in the Charities Bureau. The case was overseen by James E. Shoemaker, Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Binghamton Regional Office. The Binghamton Regional Office is part of the Division of Regional Affairs, led by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber.