NEAR WEST SIDE — The former chief financial officer of the Marcy-Newberry Association, a Near West Side charity, misappropriated more than $205,000 from the struggling child care center, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a lawsuit filed Monday.
The civil lawsuit, filed in Cook County circuit court, alleges that the charity's former CFO, Donald Chew, took $205,372 from the 130-year-old organization and put the money into his personal and for-profit business accounts.
"Chew had made some large and questionable transfers of money from MNA's accounts," the attorney general said.
The move comes more than a year after the Illinois Department of Insurance took Chew to court in December 2011 for selling insurance policies without a license through his for-profit company, Reassurance Health Inc.
Ben Kendrick, Marcy-Newberry’s executive director, said Monday he was shocked and disappointed when in January 2012 the attorney general’s office called him at the agency's office at 1073 W. Maxwell St. and told him about the allegations against Chew last year.
“The man worked for me for seven years. I had no knowledge or indication that he was stealing money,” Kendrick said.
After the call, Kendrick said Chew admitted he had taken the money, and Kendrick fired him on the spot.
A third-party audit of Marcy-Newberry’s finances during Chew’s time there revealed that he was the only party involved in the money-laundering, the lawsuit alleges.
An attorney for Chew could not be reached for comment Monday.
Madigan's lawsuit is seeking at least $205,372 from Chew and asks that he forfeit any salary and compensation he received from the agency during the time the alleged misappropriations took place.
In addition, the attorney general seeks a $50,000 fine from Chew for any violations of the state's Charitable Trust and Solicitation for Charity acts.
Although insurance covered the lost $205,000, Kendrick said the charity continues to struggle financially.
Due to dwindling private and public funds, the organization was unable to make its payroll last month.
Kendrick, who is seeking $150,000 to match a private donation, said the organization is the one real safe haven left for teens of the neighborhood.
“I’m not gonna close this agency,” he said. “We have no gangs, we have no disruptions here. The importance of Marcy-Newberry is, it is a safe haven.”