NAACP Says ‘Cincinnati Branch’ Is a Fraud

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     CINCINNATI (CN) – A group calling itself the “Cincinnati Branch” of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is a fraud and was never sanctioned by the NAACP, according to a complaint in federal court.
     The NAACP’s national office sued the NAACP, Cincinnati Branch along with its incorporators – Beverly Morton, Ishton Morton and Lettie Reid – on Tuesday.
     The lawsuit says the group and its directors – who are former members of the NAACP – “are involved in a scheme to deceive the public … [and] have held meetings in the name of the NAACP” despite not being a sanctioned organization.
     The NAACP claims that following its formation in October 2014, the Cincinnati Branch filed a lawsuit against the NAACP and its National Director of Unit Administration, at which time the NAACP “learned of Cincinnati Incorporated’s illegal behavior.”
     That lawsuit sought an injunction delaying an election and accused several members of “deliberately and consciously … sow[ing] confusion and uncertainty” among members prior to the election, according to the complaint.
     Since the formation of the “Cincinnati Branch,” the plaintiff says “Ishton Morton, Beverly Morton and Lettie Reid have had their memberships suspended from the NAACP.”
     Despite repeated demands, the defendants have “refused to turn over the financial records, bank records, and bank account documents … belonging to the NAACP and its authorized, unincorporated Cincinnati Branch,” the complaint states.
     The NAACP also claims Ishton Morton and Reid “illegally added [their names] to at least four of the bank accounts of the authorized, unincorporated Cincinnati Branch of the NAACP.”
     The NAACP says “since their respective suspensions, defendants Lettie Reid, Ishton Morton and Beverly Morton have spent over $30,000 in assets belonging to the authorized, unincorporated Cincinnati Branch of the NAACP … [and] continue to conduct meetings, authorize and utilize funds of the NAACP for impermissible and illegal purposes, operate as if they are a sanctioned branch of the NAACP, and illegally execute contracts in the name of the NAACP.”
     The NAACP seeks at least $300,000 in damages and an injunction shutting down the unauthorized Cincinnati Branch for trademark infringement, false advertising, fraud, civil conspiracy and conversion.
     It is represented by Janaya Trotter Bratton of Trotter Law in Cincinnati.