City sues agency over local senior center funding
By Vic Bradshaw
The Winchester Star
Winchester — The city government has filed a lawsuit seeking $500,000 in damages from the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging.
City officials say the nonprofit organization committed fraud by not providing the money it collected and promised to donate toward building the Active Living and Recreation Center in Jim Barnett Park.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Winchester Circuit Court, alleges that the agency accepted federal and state money earmarked for the project, as well as donations from citizens and businesses.
The agency has not given the city government the funds “despite repeated demands,” according to the lawsuit.
The city government says SAAA acted fraudulently because it intentionally solicited and collected “charitable funds under a misrepresentation” that they would be used for the project.
The suit seeks $250,000 in compensatory damages, $250,000 in punitive damages, and various smaller amounts of financial relief.
Jeff Buettner, president of the Winchester City Council, said the council was reluctant to take legal action against SAAA, but felt it had no choice.
“We absolutely did not want to do it,” he said. “But we had citizens pledge money on this project and it’s not [being returned] to Winchester. We had Congress give money for this project.”
City Attorney Anthony Williams said the city government did not require SAAA to sign an agreement indicating it would contribute $250,000 toward the building project. However, by soliciting money for the project, he said, SAAA became obligated to give the funds to the city.
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