Oklahoma charity sues ex-chief, claiming porn, bribes

BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: December 30, 2009 at 11:45 am •  Published: December 30, 2009
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©Copyright 2009, The Oklahoman

Larry Jones took bribes and hid hard-core porn magazines at the charity, Feed The Children is alleging in a countersuit against its fired president.

The charity also is accusing Jones in the civil case of other misdeeds, including misspending charity funds, pocketing travel money, keeping gifts from appearances and misusing a charity employee as a nanny.

Jones, 69, denied wrongdoing.

"They fired me wrongfully,” Jones said Tuesday evening. "What they’re trying to do is build a case up against me so that will hold up. It won’t hold up … I didn’t do anything. … If I had … done anything wrong, you better believe I would have taken everything out of the office … because I knew I was probably going to be fired.

"This is crazy,” he said. "I’m not saying they can’t live without me, but everywhere I go, people say, ‘Feed The Children is Larry Jones and Larry Jones is Feed The Children.’ And what they’re trying to do is bury me … with all these trumped-up charges.”

He specifically said the alleged bribes were above-board payments to him and that the magazines were research for a new novel, "The Zipper Disease,” about AIDS in Africa.

Jones on Nov. 10 filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the charity and its board of directors. Attorneys for the charity made the new accusations against him in the countersuit filed Monday.

Organization says it is continuing mission
The countersuit is the latest twist in the turmoil at the Oklahoma City-based Christian relief organization. The charity is known nationwide, primarily from Jones’ heart-wrenching television appeals for funds to feed starving children. Jones had been the face of the charity since founding it 30 years ago.

In a statement Tuesday, the organization said it is strong and viable and "continues to fulfill its biblical mission each and every day.”

It said officials have worked for two years to correct Jones’ misguided actions and end his free-wheeling dominance of the organization.

"We believe that Larry started out as a man with a mission to help children and families. We will continue that mission. Additionally, we will continue to defend this organization,” said Rick England, chairman of the charity’s board of directors.

Jones was fired Nov. 6 after admitting he had hidden microphones installed in the offices of three top executives at odds with him. Police investigated Jones after remnants of the recording devices were found. Prosecutors decided not to file any charges. Jones said he did nothing illegal because he intended to record only his own conversations.

Jones also was fired because directors decided he solicited a $22,000 bribe from a supplier. Jones said he only asked for help with legal expenses and the vendor took his request the wrong way.

Evidence of other wrongdoing was found after his termination, the charity and its attorneys said.

"The unexpected discovery of pornographic material, along with other personal items found in his offices, leaves this board of directors saddened, but certain the right decision was made,” the charity said in its media statement Tuesday.


THE COUNTERSUIT

Feed The Children is seeking both actual and punitive damages in its countersuit against its former president, Larry Jones. He used his position to benefit himself at the expense of Feed The Children, the charity’s attorneys allege. The countersuit was filed Monday in Oklahoma County District Court.

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