LIMA, OH – December 3, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Many Lima residents are familiar with the sight of Michael Muhammad sitting in front of the local post office soliciting donations to assist veterans. Today, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray filed a lawsuit in Allen County seeking to shut down Muhammad’s nonprofit organizations and the homeless shelter he claims to operate for the benefit of veterans.”This is a bad situation on several levels,” said Attorney General Cordray. “The conditions inside this home are appalling and hazardous to the residents. Standing water in the basement, exposed electrical wires, rotting carpet, unsafe bathroom facilities and roaches, mice and rats – the place is a mess and we need to shut it down.”
Cordray also said the public has been misled about how donations to these organizations are being spent. “We have determined that the funds being raised under the promise of helping veterans are in fact being used by the defendants to pay personal bills and expenses.”
Muhammad operates two nonprofit corporations, Help Homeless Veterans Inc. and Veterans Hope Community House Inc., according to a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General. Together with co-defendants Grover Holstein and Melvin Phipps, Muhammad has solicited donations from the public at several locations in Lima, Kenton and Ada.
Muhammad has a residence at 616 W. Elm St., Lima, where he houses persons, some of whom are veterans. The tenants are recipients of government benefits such as Social Security Veterans Assistance and are charged “rent” of between $240 and $430 per month. Residents have been forced to leave when they can no longer pay rent.
Despite collecting monthly rental payments and donations from the public, Muhammad has not made needed repairs at the residence. Instead, according to the lawsuit, Muhammad has used the rent money and donations to pay for his own personal loans and bills and to compensate Holstein and Phipps for their work in soliciting donations from the public.
In an attempt to mislead and confuse the public, Muhammad and other solicitors have used various names of fictitious organizations including Disabled Veterans, Hope House, American Disabled Veterans Home, Veterans Home, Veterans Hope Community Home, Help Homeless Vets Inc., Help House Veterans, United We Stand Veterans and Veterans Helping People.
The Attorney General’s Charitable Law section has previously filed a petition to the Allen County Court of Common Pleas to enforce its investigative authority against Michael Muhammad. However, Muhammad and other solicitors working at his direction have continually refused to answer questions, withheld documents and lied under oath.
Today’s court action by the Attorney General’s Office seeks to shut down the house on W. Elm St. and prohibit the defendants from soliciting charitable donations in the state of Ohio.
The Attorney General’s Charitable Law section is working with the Veterans Services Office of Allen County to provide housing for the one tenant currently living at the residence.
To read the complaint, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/LimaVetsHomeComplaint.
Photos of the residence which are available for news publication purposes can be found at: www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/LimaVetsHomePhotos.
Ted Hart: (614) 728-4127
cell: (614) 743-2286
Holly Hollingsworth: (614) 644-0508
cell: (614) 353-7576