State settles lawsuit with domestic violence nonprofit

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody speaks to reporters Monday In Orlando.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody speaks to reporters Monday In Orlando.(The Florida Channel)
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 11:44 AM EDT
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ORLANDO, Fla. (WWSB) - Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Thursday the state has reached a settlement in a lawsuit against the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc. for more than $5 million.

Last year, the state began an investigation of the nonprofit Coalition after reports of its officers receiving exorbitant compensation, and the failure of the group to provide accurate financial records to the Department of Children and Families.

The Florida Legislature approved dissolving the Coalition and to allow the DCF to directly contract with providers for domestic violence services.

“I am pleased that through these actions, we succeeded in getting rid of the bad management, dismantling the organization, implementing a new system to serve victims of domestic violence and recouping millions of misappropriated funds,” Moody said from her Orlando office.

DCF filed a lawsuit against the Coalition, its CEO Tiffany Carr, CFO Patricia Duarte, COO Sandra Barnett, and its board members, alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied duty of good faith, breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent concealment, civil conspiracy, and fraudulent misrepresentation.

“Florida taxpayers deserve full accountability and transparency,” DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris said. “The (Coalition) was deceptive with state funds, and I thank Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for the justice served today. We will continue working to ensure survivors receive the care and support they need while remaining transparent with the Legislature and taxpayers.”

In connection with the settlement, the Coalition’s officers and directors will pay more than $3.9 million to DCF and the receiver, including a more than $2 million payment by Carr. The Coalition foundation is required to liquidate all remaining assets and pay $1.1 million to domestic violence centers around the state.

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