Attorney General Mike DeWine reported that his request for a temporary restraining order against Ministry In Marketing and its founder/president Gary Nicholas Bias, of Richland County, was granted on Tuesday, January 15, 2013. While the group is based in Mansfield, they also operated in the Marion area.
DeWine also filed a 37-count complaint against Ministry In Marketing and Bias for violations of Ohio’s Charitable Trust Act and Charitable Organizations Act. The complaint alleges that Bias pocketed thousands of dollars of donations intended for charities and failed to provide to charities the full amount due to them for the sale and distribution of coupon books by Bias and his organization on their behalf.
“Even when charities are vigilant and monitor agreements they have with solicitors in order to ensure they get all of the proceeds their groups deserve, there are too many people willing to cash in on the good name of charities and take advantage of the generosity of Ohioans,” DeWine said. “We will go after those who try to benefit by harming charities and their donors.”
Ministry In Marketing sold coupon books on behalf of charities in the Mansfield and Columbus, Ohio areas. The complaint alleges that Bias’s group did not forward all of the proceeds that the charitable organizations were due from the sales of these books. Instead, those proceeds were inappropriately used by Bias and Ministry In Marketing. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Bias and his group misled donors and consumers about whether certain organizations had approved or would benefit from the sale of the books.
The complaint also alleges that Ministry In Marketing did not properly register with the Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section under the provisions of the Charitable Trust Act and the Charitable Organizations Act and did not maintain proper records for maintaining charitable contributions.
The Attorney General’s Office sought a temporary restraining order against Bias and Ministry In Marketing in order to freeze funds and assets used in the deceptive practices. The Office seeks restitution and penalties, as well as the assets that should have gone to the charities. If funds are recovered by the Attorney General’s office, they will be forwarded to charitable organizations that should have benefitted from the defendants’ activities.
A copy of the motion for a temporary restraining order and a copy of the complaint can be found on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
To check whether a charitable organization is in compliance with its registration obligations or whether a professional solicitor is properly registered, call the Ohio Attorney General’s office at 800-282-0515 or visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov. If you encounter suspicious activities involving charities or charitable solicitations, contact the Office to file a complaint.