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Attorney General Files To Remove Upper Valley Nonprofit Board

Attorney General Files To Remove Upper Valley Nonprofit Board Montpelier Vermont

posted at 8:59 am Wed Oct 8th, 2014 by (WherezIt_Staff)

Responding to internal complaints about the lack of financial oversight and poor governance at an Upper Valley charity, the Attorney General's Office filed a petition in Windsor Superior Court to remove members of the Emerge Family Advocates governing board for violating their duties as board members or for gross abuse of discretion.

The Attorney General also requested a preliminary injunction to halt Emerge's provision of services and prevent it from spending more charitable assets until the superior court appoints a special trustee to review Emerge's current finances and has received the trustee's recommended course of action.

Founded in 1996, Emerge provides supervised visitation and supervised child exchange between parents for families in the Upper Valley. Emerge is funded almost exclusively by grants from the States of Vermont and New Hampshire. The Attorney General's petition specifically alleges that, while Emerge has continued to provide these services, its Board has repeatedly failed to provide necessary independent oversight over the organization's finances, essentially giving the executive director free rein to expend the charity's assets - including writing her own paychecks and expense reimbursements beyond what has been authorized. This failure threatens Emerge's mission and has put its current funding in serious jeopardy. Beyond that, the petition describes the Board's internal conflict and failure to operate effectively.

Vermont law requires that board members perform their official duties, in good faith, with ordinary care, and in a manner that reasonably serves the best interests of the charity. When board members violate these duties, as alleged in the Attorney General's petition, Vermont law specifies that the Attorney General can request that a court remove such members.

Given that a majority of Emerge's funding comes from the State of New Hampshire, the Attorney General's Office has been in communication with the New Hampshire Attorney General's Charitable Trusts Unit throughout the course of this investigation.

Office of the Vermont Attorney General 10/7/14

Relevant Address(es):
Montpelier, VT 05602 (Set as Local)

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