Hit by lawsuit, Tahoe Aids Task Force calls it quits | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hit by lawsuit, Tahoe Aids Task Force calls it quits

Mary Thompson

The Lake Tahoe AIDS Task Force will disband after a lawsuit filed by two former board members claimed that the nonprofit organization was being run fraudulently and not in the public’s best interest.

The lawsuit was filed July 9 in El Dorado Superior Court by former Task Force President Simon Harvey and former board member Todd Mason.

In 26 complaints that ranged from pervasive fraud, mismanagement practices and abuse of authority, the lawsuit claimed that the Task Force was in violation of state Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation and sought remedy through the dissolution of the organization.

In a written statement, Task Force President Eric Taxer denied the charges but agreed to dissolve.

“The current board adamantly denies all issues raised in the suit, even though the issues related to the period of time Mr. Harvey served as president of the organization,” he said. “The financial effort to pursue litigation would greatly exhaust the funds that were raised to provide financial assistance to persons living with HIV and AIDS.”

The Task Force was founded in 1987 by community members with the purpose of providing service to South Shore AIDS patients, including such duties as counseling, transportation to out-of-town clinics, food bank and nutrition programs and community education about the disease.

But Harvey, who served as board president for about a year and a half, said the Task Force wasn’t doing as much as it should have been during its last few years of existence.

He said the Task Force, which gets about $15,000 per year from its community fund-raising efforts, used about 40 percent of its money to hire an employee who did little more than set up a weekly food bank for HIV patients.

According to Harvey, those funds should have been spent on advanced treatment for the patients at University of California, Davis medical center or the UC San Francisco wellness clinic. He said it also could have been better used by bringing in specialists to make presentations about treatment tactics to the approximately 25 to 35 people living with AIDS in the South Shore area.

“Health concerns were not addressed,” he said.

The lawsuit requests that the Task Force hand over its remaining assets to the nonprofit Sierra Foothills AIDS Foundation, a Grass Valley, Calif., organization, but the board of directors has decided to divide the remaining funds among its current list of clients.

“All funds have been generously donated by the community, and the board is unanimous in ensuring the funds stay in the community to provide the services for which they are intended,” Taxer said.

Harvey said the lawsuit action will dissolve along with the organization once the assets are handed over.

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