Lawsuit Over Chardon Donations Upsets Residents

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CHARDON, Ohio — Families of the three victims in the Chardon High School shootings have filed a lawsuit claiming the funds collected for the victims were not properly distributed, among other complaints.

The families of Daniel Parmertor, Russell King, Jr. and Demetrius Hewlin filed a lawsuit against the United Way of Greater Cleveland, the United Way of Geauga County, the Geauga County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services and the Charitable Law Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, according to court documents.

In the suit, the families claim $952,000 was donated to the trust, but the families collectively have received less than $150,000, which is only about 15 percent of the collected donations.

The families claim that at a time when they were “suffering great personal and financial loss” as a result of the loss of their loved ones that they were denied funds by the trustee.

That news upset many people in Chardon who donated money, like Chris Klee.

“I’m in a little bit of a shock," said Klee. "I can’t lie. I’m really mad.”

The lawsuit also states “the foremost purpose of the Trust, to benefit the families of the victims, has not been met.”

The families said they have been informed that they will receive no further funds from the trust.

“Everyone that donated deserves an explanation,” said Jessica Parks, of Chardon.

The lawsuit attempts to get answers.

Families are specifically asking for the trustee to be suspended and/or removed. They want the trustee’s compensation reduced or denied. They want the trustee compelled to make distributions to the families in accordance with the purpose of the Trust.

But most importantly they want the “Trustee to provide an accounting of all trust funds” and to account for all requests for funds whether or not they were approved or denied.

Fox 8 News has reached out to the defendants named in the lawsuit for comment.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, the United Way Services of Geauga County and United Way of Greater Cleveland said more than $417,000 has been distributed to six families for bills, home modifications, counseling and supportive services.

“United Way Services of Geauga County was asked by the community to help facilitate the Chardon Healing Fund and has donated its work. We are confident the fund has been managed in an open and transparent manner according to its guiding principles,” according to the statement. “All of the funds, 100 percent, are going to meet the charitable mission of the Chardon Healing Fund to benefit the healing of the community.”

To read the entire statement, click here.

Jim Adams, CEO of the Geauga County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services Tuesday afternoon said his organization “did not collect a dime for the trust and does not understand why it is being included in the lawsuit.”

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office released a statement saying that they have not seen the lawsuit yet and that they do not generally comment on pending litigation.

For more on this story, click here.