ND Attorney General seeks fines, costs from Maras Lindeman, former Minot event organizer
State seeks fines, costs from former event organizer
A district judge has determined that a former event organizer misled consumers and then acted in bad faith in failing to turn over information to the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office in relation to a canceled 2017 Christmas show in Minot.
North Central District Judge Todd Cresap issued a default judgment Aug. 7, requiring Terpsehore “Tore” Maras Lindeman or her attorney to pay the state’s reasonable expenses. Parrell Grossman, director of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, said the office has filed a proposal to the court for $9,000 in civil penalties on nine counts in the consumer fraud complaint, which cites misrepresentations related to the Minot show and a Harvey fundraiser. The court previously ordered Maras Lindeman to pay $6,600 in Attorney General expenses, and Grossman said the office will seek an additional $10,000 reimbursement, which he said is less than actually incurred.
The Attorney General’s Office began a consumer fraud investigation into Maras Lindeman’s efforts to organize A Magic City Christmas in December 2017, shortly before the event was canceled. The office argued Lindeman should have registered as a charitable fundraiser and sought in January 2018 to have the court compel information from Maras Lindeman to assist in its investigation.
In July 2018, the Attorney General’s Office filed an additional case against Maras Lindeman, accusing her of failing to register as a charitable organization or professional fundraiser and using deceptive practices in advertising and fundraising. The state sought civil penalties and attorney fees.
Grossman said the Attorney General had offered a settlement agreement that included a $500 fine and promise to comply with laws in the future. The offer was consistent with agreements in other, similar violations, but Maras Lindeman rejected that agreement multiple times and refused to cooperate with the Attorney General or court in the litigation, he said.
“The Attorney General simply cannot require some actors to comply with the law and allow others to flagrantly violate the law with impunity and no consequences,” he said. “The Attorney General maintains that she engaged in clearly illegal conduct, including illegal charitable solicitations and multiple acts of fraud or misrepresentations, and we are confident the evidence would prove those violations. It’s illegal to solicit funds for charitable purposes and then use some of those funds for personal use.”
Maras Lindeman had argued her efforts didn’t fall under the requirement to register and denied any misrepresentation or misuse of funds. She also argued the state already had possession of information being sought.
“The Attorney General was allowed to make this into a monumental case that was basically a vindictive case against Tore,” said Grand Forks attorney David Thompson, who represented her. “It was allowed to become a mountain of retribution against somebody who was a thorn in the Attorney General’s side for other reasons.”
Maras Lindeman, who no longer lives in the Minot area, had stated her previous writings critical of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem factored into the office’s legal action against her.
Thompson said he disagrees with Cresap’s assessment and conclusions that led to the default judgment ruling, but it has not been decided whether Maras Lindeman will appeal. She has 60 days to do so.