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Attorney General Ellison secures repayment, permanent charitable-sector ban against former Journey Home Minnesota president

Settlement requires Blake Huffman to repay $60K in charitable assets he misused from veterans-housing charity Journey Home Minnesota, permanently bans Huffman from operating a charity in Minnesota

 

September 22, 2020



September 21, 2020 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today filed a settlement agreement in Ramsey County District Court requiring Blake Huffman, the former president of the charity Journey Home Minnesota (“JHM”), to pay back $60,000 in funds that he misused from the charity. The settlement also permanently bans Huffman from operating a charity, having access to charitable assets, and soliciting charitable contributions in Minnesota. In addition, JHM must liquidate its assets, distribute them to a Minnesota-based veterans charity, and dissolve its operations.

“As the primary regulator of charities in Minnesota, it’s my job to ensure that charities are using their assets solely on behalf of their mission and the public, and that Minnesotans can trust that the money they generously donate to charities is being used for the causes they care about,” Attorney General Ellison said. “Blake Huffman took advantage of Minnesotans’ trust. He exploited the sacrifices of Minnesota’s veterans to line his own pockets. This settlement makes sure that the money will go where it’s supposed to — to help veterans afford their lives — and that Huffman will never operate a charity Minnesota again.”

In December 2019, Attorney General Ellison sued Huffman for failing to properly oversee JHM’s charitable assets and failing to operate JHM in furtherance of its charitable mission, among other things. The lawsuit alleged that Huffman, as JHM’s president, engaged in transactions that presented clear conflicts of interest; helped solicit tens of thousands of dollars to build a handicap-accessible home for a Minnesota family with terminally ill children, only to abandon the project; and attempted to cancel leases midway through tenants’ terms and increased tenants’ rent to market rates, contrary to JHM’s charitable mission. The lawsuit also claimed that Huffman abandoned JHM and its charitable mission, failed to pay its bills, and allowed some of its properties to be foreclosed upon. During the litigation, the Attorney General’s Office further discovered that Huffman had misused nearly $81,000 of JHM’s assets.

JHM owned property throughout the metro area, including Ramsey, Dakota, Anoka, and Cook counties. The lawsuit filed in Ramsey County District Court asserted that Huffman and JHM violated Minnesota’s Nonprofit Corporations Act, Supervision of Charitable Trusts and Trustees Act, and Charitable Solicitation Act.

In Minnesota, nonprofit executives owe fiduciary duties to act in the best interests of the charities that they serve, including putting the interests of the nonprofit above any personal financial interests. The Attorney General’s office provides additional information about these fiduciary duties, as well as other resources to help nonprofit leaders properly serve their organizations, on its web site at http://www.ag.state.mn.us/Charity/InfoNonProfits.asp.

Anyone with a concern about a charity may submit a complaint online or contact the Attorney General’s Office as follows:

Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison

445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400

Saint Paul MN 55101

(651) 296-3353 (Metro area)

(800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota)

http://www.ag.state.mn.us

 

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