Injunction halts collections, preserves assets of East Palestine derailment 'charity' under scrutiny
A judge in Columbiana County has handed down a preliminary injunction prohibiting a charity from soliciting donations purportedly meant to benefit victims of the February 3rd Noforlk Southern train derailment in East Palestine.
Judge Scott Washam issued the injunction on Tuesday after a court hearing.
Describing the Ohio Clean Water Fund as a "phony charity", Attorney General Dave Yost filed a civil lawsuit last month alleging that the organization falsely claimed to be collecting on behalf of village residents.
Yost alleges that Mike Peppel presented his Ohio Clean Water Fund as a nonprofit organization acting on behalf of Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley to provide residents with emergency aid and bottled water.
Instead, according to the lawsuit, Peppel and others pocketed at least $131,000 of the roughly $141,000 raised from more than 3,000 donors.
Yost sought the preliminary injunction to halt Peppel’s activity, prohibit him from engaging in additional charitable solicitations and preserve existing charitable assets.
Judge Washam gave Ohio Clean Water 21 days to place $25,000 into escrow or file a $250,000 bond with the court. The judge scheduled a May 31 telephone hearing to discuss the status of the case.
As reported in a 21 News Watchdog report, representatives of Second Harvest Food Bank complained to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office that they had not authorized the partnership cited by Peppel in soliciting contributions via mass emails and text messages.
Second Harvest Food Bank twice confronted Peppel to tell him to stop advertising the non-existent partnership. To date, and only after he was called out, Peppel has paid only $10,000 to the food bank, 7% of what Peppel admits he raised.