OCEAN SPRINGS — The chairwoman of the nonprofit Asian Americans for Change has agreed to repay $10,000 in personal compensation from AAC she was unable to document and the organization agreed to a $2,000 fine in a consent agreement with the secretary of state’s office.
The Sun Herald reports that the secretary of state’s charity division found Gai Kaitlin Truong used the nonprofit’s money to pay workers at her private, for-profit business and failed to justify at least part of her own nonprofit salary of $61,100 for 2012. The agreement says the salary was a substantial increase over her previous pay.
“The division’s investigation revealed several instances of nepotism, mismanagement and/or failure to observe policy directed or caused by Truong, and allowed by ACC,” the consent agreement said.
Truong admitted no wrongdoing.
Jackson attorney Cory Wilson of Jackson, who represents Truong and the Ocean Springs-based AAC, said the situation “is a case of good intentions without the organizational capacity to make sure all the checks and balances were in place.”
The organization’s nonprofit status had lapsed but has been reinstated, the secretary of state’s office.
Wilson said the group has new board members and has put into place procedures to avoid future problems. The consent agreement process, which has taken about a year, has been instructive for the agency founded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he said.
As part of the agreement, Truong can no longer serve on the AAC board or as a supervisory employee, but she can volunteer or work for AAC.
Wilson said the agreement contains allegations that his client would fight if the case went to court. He said a settlement with the secretary of state allowed Truong and AAC to avoid a costly and lengthy court case.