Director of Lakeville nonprofit ordered to pay back donations used to buy, fix up house

The director of a nonprofit for foster children has been ordered by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to pay $66,000 to the state after his office found that donations to her company were misappropriated for her own needs.

According to the attorney general’s office, Genevieve LaVoi, of Lakeville, is banned from operating a charity, having access to charitable assets or soliciting charitable contributions in Minnesota. Additionally, two former directors of the charity "A Place to Call Home" (APCH), Renee LaVoi and Thomas Gray, are also banned from any of the aforementioned operations in the state.

Genevieve claimed her intent was to provide financial support to foster homes. She is a foster parent and used the funds to first prepare her own house to take in more children before helping more families. Court documents show that LaVoi made an error when she listed herself as both a board member and a beneficiary.

"It’s the attorney general’s job to make sure charities use donations and public assets only their charitable purpose. But instead of using the donations made to APCH to help foster children, LaVoi used the money to buy herself a house, make home improvements, and pay her mortgage," Ellison said. "Taking money from children to buy things for yourself is inexcusable: it doesn’t just hurt children, it hurts every Minnesotan who puts their trust in charities. This settlement ensures the money intended for children will go to them, and ensures these people can never do anything like this again."

According to an investigation by the attorney general’s office, between 2016 and 2019, the nonprofit received $136,216 in donations. Of those, $66,085 came from the Medtronic Foundation. The complaint shows that LaVoi then spent most of the funds buying a house, fixing it up and making payments on the home’s mortgage. Court records indicate she believed she was using the money appropriately, stating it was benefitting the children she fostered in her home.

If she violates her settlement, LaVoi will have to pay an additional penalty of over $66,000. APCH is also required to liquidate its assets and distribute them to a Minnesota-based charity that benefits foster children, and then dissolve its operations.