[Hpn] State takes over HOMELESS HOTEL management. Nonprofit allegedly misused funds. fwd misused funds. fwd

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sun, 10 Dec 2000 11:29:01 -0800 (PST)

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FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Dec 08, 2000


     COOS BAY, Ore. (AP) _ The state attorney general's office has
taken over management of the North Bend Hotel from a nonprofit
corporation that was restoring the building for low-income housing.

``This is a civil matter. It's not a criminal matter,'' said
Assistant Attorney General Judith Woodruff.

The state last month sought a temporary restraining order
against A'Toll Inc., Dacon B Inc. and three family members who were
on the corporations' boards. The action followed allegations David
and Connie Branum and their daughter Lonna Branum Thompson misused
grants and abused their positions on the board of directors.

The Branums set up the nonprofit corporation 11 years ago to
provide housing for homeless and very low-income people. Their
first project was restoring the Powers Hotel.

To pay for the work and to purchase that hotel and others, the
board of directors applied for grants and loans. They succeeded in
getting money from groups such as the Meyer Memorial Trust and the
Ford Family Foundation.

The state since has appointed six people from the Coos Bay area
to the board to try to restore order to the organization. Most
importantly, the state wants to ensure that 28 tenants of the
historic five-story building don't become homeless.

State officials recently served David and Connie Branum with a
subpoena but were unable to locate Thompson.

The state also is seeking control over three other historic
hotels in Powers, Roseburg and Astoria that also were to be
developed for low-income housing; David and Connie Branum's house
in Roseburg; several vehicles; bank accounts and construction and
office equipment and supplies.

``They've been very cooperative and provided us with all the
documents we've asked for,'' Woodruff said.

Problems started earlier this year in a family dispute between
David and Connie Branum and Lonna Thompson and her husband,
William. Both sides told their stories to the state Justice
Department in September.

The Thompsons since have reportedly left the state and the
Branums were unable to be reached this week.

According to court documents, the Branums tried to evict the
Thompsons and fire William Thompson as the hotel's manager without
board approval. The state also contends Connie Branum tried to
appoint new board members in an emergency meeting without notifying
existing members. The Branums also created the second corporation
without board approval, creating another dispute because other
board members had no control over finances.

There also are suggestions of financial problems and conflicts
of interest.

The state has not ruled out the possibility of criminal charges.

AP-WS-12-08-00 1928EST
Received  Id AP100343EF86A770 on Dec 08 2000 18:31


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