Judge Grants Injunction to Safeguard Religious Charity’s Assets
Prevents Assets from Being Transferred Pending AG’s Investigation into Alleged Misuse of Charitable Funds by Charity’s Former Board Members
BOSTON – A preliminary injunction has been obtained to protect $285,000 in remaining assets of a bankrupt religious charity until further investigation into alleged misuse of charitable funds by the charity’s former board members, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
“We are pleased that the court granted our requested injunctive relief while we investigate this matter further,” said AG Coakley. “Our office is committed to ensuring that the integrity of charitable assets is protected through proper oversight and transparency.”
The order halts the transfer of the assets of a South End charity, the International Gospel Party Boosting Jesus Groups, Inc. (“Gospel Party”), to three of the charity’s board members, pending further investigation by the Attorney General’s Office. The order, granted by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas E. Connolly against Dwight and Susie Miller, both of Dorchester, and Jennifer Faigel of Newton, protects the Gospel Party’s assets to ensure that they are maintained and preserved, rather than surrendered to any of the individual defendants. In accordance with the Attorney General’s motion, Judge Connolly ordered $285,000 in Gospel Party funds to be held in escrow by attorney Joseph Butler, a bankruptcy trustee appointed in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding filed by the charity.
The Trustee in Bankruptcy will hold the funds until the Court determines whether the Gospel Party is a viable organization or whether a receiver should be appointed to take custody of the Gospel Party’s funds, pursue recoupment of $400,000 allegedly misappropriated by Dwight Miller, and pursue dissolution proceedings.
In the complaint, the Attorney General’s Office alleges that Dwight Miller and his wife Susie Miller took over the Gospel Party in 1994, which has been in operation for 70 years. The Gospel Party’s current stated mission is to act as a place of worship to develop Christian fellowship among religious denominations and to promote “spiritual, moral, social and civic welfare in the area.” In 2009, Dwight Miller allegedly took out a second mortgage secured by the Gospel Party’s property, a building that contains six apartments and a meeting space, in the amount of $400,000. The Millers have failed to account for the proceeds of the loan, which they claim were lent to two business entities unrelated to the Gospel Party and are now unrecoverable. The complaint also alleges that in that same time frame, Dwight Miller also became a developer of a $9.5 million project to revitalize the area of Main Street in Brockton including a restaurant, jazz club, community theater, coffeehouse, bookstore, sports learning center and public parks.
The Gospel Party did not make any payments on the $400,000 second mortgage and the bank moved to foreclose against the property on August 20, 2010. One day before the scheduled foreclosure, Dwight Miller filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the charity. After nearly a year in bankruptcy, Dwight and Susie Miller were unable to pay the $400,000 demanded by the bank, so the Bankruptcy Court allowed the building to be sold to an individual for $1.3 million. After payment of creditors, including the mortgage bank, there is a remaining fund of approximately $285,000. The preliminary injunction will prevent the transfer of these assets back to Gospel Party board members until the Court makes its final ruling.
Assistant Attorney General Johanna Soris of AG Coakley’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division is handling this matter with assistance from Assistant Attorney General Eric Carriker, also of AG Coakley’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division.