Attorney general has questions on fund for victims

WARREN – Representatives of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office questioned City Council President Bob Dean on Saturday about how money raised for the six teens killed in a single-car accident on March 10 was distributed.

Several family members of the deceased filed charges with police against Dean over how the more than $61,000 raised for the funeral expenses was paid out. The information was turned over to the Attorney General’s Office.

Dan Tierney, an attorney general’s spokesman, said Wednesday there have been no official complaints filed against Dean at his office. However, the office does not comment on investigations, he said.

Dean said he was contacted by officials from the attorney general’s charitable law division on Friday, and he was interviewed on Saturday.

“I spoke with them for about one hour and 40 minutes, explaining what was done,” Dean said. “There was no wrongdoing. They presented several options to me, including following the example of what happened in Chardon, where money was raised for the families children shot at the school.

“It was suggested that the money could be transferred to a 501(c)(3), which is a nonprofit that raises money for charities,” Dean said. “I am doing that today.”

As of Wednesday, $15,030.39 of the money raised remained in a Huntington Bank account, according to Dean. The council president said all but $800 has been committed to pay bills connected with the funerals.

Dean said that everything he had done in establishing the Huntington Bank account was transparent. Also, it was a six-member pastoral group that decided how the payments were distributed, he said.

Ten checks were written to pay for services, and nine have been cashed.

Several family members raised questions after it was announced that there would be a surplus after all of the bills were paid. They also questioned money that was spent because several organizations had stated publicly they planned to donate their services.

The ministers in charge of distributing the money said they intended to use any excess money for future emergencies.

Family members suggested there were non-direct funeral costs that were experienced and they could use the money to pay them. The families said that it was their understanding that some funeral costs were as low as $2,800, while the funeral homes were paid $6,000.

In an interview with the Tribune Chronicle last week, funeral home director Sterling McCullough said the average cost of funerals is about $9,000. The funeral homes agreed to accept $6,000.