Former Zepf Center director accused in lawsuit

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The former executive director of the Zepf Center is accused in a lawsuit of misusing funds of the nonprofit mental-health agency and violating her employment contract by going to work for a competing organization.

Filed this week in Lucas County Common Pleas, the complaint alleges Jennifer Moses paid for personal expenses with Zepf Center credit cards, used agency funds to pay for her children’s school activities and clubs, and sold a vehicle owned by Zepf to her husband at a loss to the agency.

She is also accused of violating the non-compete agreement in her employment contract with Zepf by taking a job with Toledo-based Empowered for Excellence Behavioral Health of Ohio. Jonathon James, CEO of Empowered for Excellence, could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Moses, 46, of Maumee, was chief executive officer at Zepf from 2007 until she posted her resignation on Facebook July 18, four days after she was suspended and an outside investigator began looking into alleged misconduct by Ms. Moses, the lawsuit shows.

The allegations of misspending money by Zepf’s former director include:

● Payments of nearly $11,000 to Anthony Wayne High School for activities of her children from 2014.

● $2,500 in reimbursement from Zepf for a personal charitable donation that was never made.

● Receiving pay for personal, sick, and vacation time that she shouldn’t have received.

● Sale of vehicle to her husband at a loss to Zepf.

● Charges on agency credit card to pay for personal items.

● Affixing the signature of the board chairman on a credit card statement without the chairman’s approval.

Zepf also claims the employment contract signed by Ms. Moses in 2015 was further violated by Empowered for Excellence Behavioral Health of Ohio hiring away Zepf employees.

The 2015 employment agreement for Ms. Moses puts her base salary at $215,000. However, the Zepf federal income tax filing for 2015 reports her income at $234,272 with additional income of $41,364 from related organizations.

The lawsuit shows that Eastman & Smith, which represents Zepf, sent letters to Empowered for Excellence about the one-year contractual employment restrictions for Ms. Moses but the agency failed to respond.

The law firm also sent letters to Ms. Moses and her attorney, Richard Kerger, to obtain restitution on the alleged misspent money, the lawsuit shows.

Barry Fissel, an attorney for Eastman & Smith, said the complaint was prepared to contain specific allegations supported by the investigation by the outside firm hired by Zepf.

“We are sorry that it was necessary to file the complaint. We took several steps before filing to avoid litigation. We sent letters to her lawyer and [Empowered for Excellence] and received no satisfactory response from either one, making it necessary to file the lawsuit,” he said.

Mr. Kerger said in a statement that Zepf is claiming his client owes $29,000 that was allegedly improperly paid to her over a seven-year period and she has agreed to repay the agency. He said she is disputing some of the claims for repayment made by Zepf.

“But the majority of the claims are wrong and she was in the process of pulling information together to show them this was the case when the lawsuit was filed,” Mr. Kerger wrote.

Contact Mark Reiter at markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

SOURCEThe Blade
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