SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced a lawsuit against Earl Feldman, a San Diego attorney who allegedly misappropriated funds from charitable trusts that he oversaw as the trustee. The Attorney General’s petition alleges that Feldman misappropriated more than $2 million in charitable trust funds for his personal gain, travel, furniture and insurance, instead of donating the funds to charitable organizations.
“Generous Californians often make the serious choice to donate their life savings to a charitable trust. My office takes seriously our duty to ensure that these charitable assets are used accordingly," said Attorney General Becerra. “We will not tolerate corrupt trustees who take advantage of their clients’ generosity. The California Department of Justice will protect donors and charities who follow the law. And we will prosecute those who cheat and think they can get away with it.”
Feldman was a named trustee to three charitable trusts, the Maury and Lillian Novak Charitable Trust, the Yvonne Mitchell Trust and the Goldberg Family Trust. As trustee, Feldman allegedly filed false reports with the Attorney General’s office and the Internal Revenue Service claiming to have made numerous donations from the trusts to various charities. An investigation by Attorney General Becerra’s office discovered that between 2010 and 2015, Feldman misappropriated more than $2 million from two of the charitable trusts for his personal gain instead of distributing the donations to various charitable organizations. While Feldman paid back some of the funds, he retained over $700,000 and failed to account for the funds he retained during the Attorney General’s investigation of Feldman’s actions as a trustee.
Charitable trustees are required to report accurate information in their filings with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts and they are required to produce all records in response to the Attorney General’s investigation demands. As a result of Feldman’s alleged abuse of power and trust, Attorney General Becerra is seeking to remove him as the trustee and obtain a permanent ban, barring from Feldman acting in a fiduciary capacity for any trust or nonprofit. The petition also seeks the recovery of the funds Feldman misappropriated.