A Perrysburg woman indicted for allegedly stealing money from the charity she operates passed out at a Friday court hearing.
Bowling Green EMS was called to tend to Linda Greene, CEO of Impact of Hope, after she slumped onto the shoulder of her defense attorney.
Greene, who is 73, declined medical treatment when paramedics arrived at the courtroom of Wood County Common Pleas Judge Joel Kuhlman.
Greene, who was indicted in February 2021, served as president and chief executive officer of Impact with Hope, formerly known as ISOH Impact, in Waterville.
From Jan. 1, 2011 to Nov. 28, 2018, she is accused of soliciting contributions and misleading donors that the money would be used for charitable purposes when in fact they were used for personal use. According to court papers, the victims were elderly persons or disabled adults and the amount received was $37,000 or more from each.
Greene has also been accused of stealing more than $150,000 from the charity in money, services and reimbursements between Sept. 16, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2018.
Between June 8, 2012 and Nov. 29, 2018, she is accused of using telecommunication services to defraud an unnamed victim of $7,500 or more but less than $150,000.
During that same time, Greene allegedly falsified or destroyed accounting records, reimbursement/receipt records and other financial records to conceal the loss of $150,000 from Impact with Hope Ministries.
Impact with Hope collects items, such as water and baby formula, during disasters.
Wood County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Gross repeated Friday the plea deal extended by the state.
That deal amended the charge of prohibited acts and practices for charities to a third-degree felony from a second-degree felony.
The remaining three charges, which included telecommunication fraud, tampering with records and aggravated theft, all third-degree felonies, would remain unchanged.
Gross said the state would recommend a sentence of community control with jail time if Greene pleaded guilty to those charges and cooperated with dissolving the charity and move out of the Lighthouse, which is what the main office of the charity is called. She also must pay restitution as determined by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Gross said there have been several plea negotiations and the state’s offer has remained unchanged.
It has been declined time and time again, and “at this point, the state stands ready to proceed to trial,” she said.
Greene on Friday again rejected the offer.
“We’re prepared to proceed to trial on July 11,” said defense attorney Jeffrey Collins.
He said the court has ruled twice to revoke her bond and asked to reconsider an own recognizance bond.
Greene was taken into custody when she entered the courthouse, on a warrant for violating her bond requirements. She posted the $5,000 bond by Friday afternoon.
Collins said his client voluntarily appeared, knowing an arrest warrant had been issued.
“There’s no risk of flight for her appearance in court,” he said.
Kuhlman agreed with the lack of flight risk, but voiced concern over Greene’s continued non-compliance with the court order to have no contact with Impact for Hope donors, volunteers, solicitation of funds and the daily financial business of the charity.
According to a request for an arrest warrant filed by Gross earlier this month, Greene raised money for earthquake relief in Haiti. She also raised money for Ukraine. The attorney who has financial responsibility for the charity has had no communication with anyone other than Greene and his monthly reports contain large “reimbursements” to Greene, indicating she is paying bills. She also has access to the charity’s warehouse and is living in the Lighthouse, which is owned by the charity.
On the charity’s website, Greene is still listed as CEO and a member of the board which means she has not relinquished her position or obligations, therefore violating the court’s orders, Gross wrote in the motion to arrest.
Collins said his client’s arrest in the presence of her granddaughter “has sent a message to Mrs. Greene that there must be strict compliance.”
He said Greene has made payments out of her own pocket to Impact to keep it open and those payments have been known to the prosecutor since the beginning.
Gross said the state has expressed concern over the arrangement for more than a year.
She said her office has not pursued an additional investigation but is considering starting one if Greene insists on continue to be involved with the charity.
“We made it very clear to the defendant this co-mingling needs to end, but from everything we can see, it’s business as usual,” Gross said.
She said Greene is being reimbursed for paying charity bills and is living a lifestyle supported by the charity by living in a home and driving a car owned by Impact for Hope.
“I don’t think this defendant has taken this prosecution seriously since the beginning,” Gross said.
Kuhlman agreed the issue is the constant contact Greene has with the charity and he said the court was not aware she was living in a house owned by Impact for Hope.
Collins said there is no court order prohibiting Greene from living at the Lighthouse.
Kuhlman said by living on site and having access to the warehouse, she has the opportunity to hinder the process of the court by speaking with potential witnesses. Greene has a no-contact order with the charity, he said.
Gross said there have been repeated violations of the own recognizance bond that had previously been set.
“She has a heart that likes to help people and there are issues that are going around this globe,” Collins said.
Gross said the state is not opposed to her staying at the Lighthouse, but her constant involvement with the charity must end.
Kuhlman said he saw nothing from Greene that showed him an own recognizance bond was appropriate.
Kuhlman set bond at $50,000, with 10% allowed, with conditions that included Greene have no contact with the running of Impact for Hope. She will be allowed to continue living in the Lighthouse and using the company car.
Greene must not interact with volunteers or board members, go to the warehouse nor raise money for charity, he said.
“What did I do wrong?” Greene asked.
When asked by Kuhlman if she understood the conditions, she said “I’m thinking about it.”
A minute later, Greene slumped into the shoulder of defense attorney Paul Geller.
“She’s fine and is prepared to proceed,” Collins said after paramedics left the courtroom.
“I don’t know how she can proceed,” Kuhlman said.
He said it is the court’s opinion that Greene is not respecting the process.
“I don’t think she’s shown any respect for the court,” he said.
Greene’s trial is scheduled for July 11-15.