LITIGATION INFORMATION & UPDATES

Update (April 2024)

On February 24, 2024, the parties executed a settlement to resolve the litigation. Under that settlement, Orange County Surrogate’s Court entered a stipulated order dated March 8, 2024. The order provides that New York DECA’s verified claim for $1.7 million is “valid and allowed” in full and provides a mechanism for New York DECA to recover up to that amount from the Estate of Mary Peres. At this point, we do not have an estimate of either the recovery amount or timeline but will share information as it becomes available.

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Overview (October 2023)

Mary Peres served as a long-time director and de facto leader, as well as both Chairperson and Charter Association Advisor, for New York DECA. After her death, the Board of Directors conducted a preliminary review of the organization’s finances and discovered financial irregularities.

The Board then appointed a Special Committee to review the nature, extent, origins, and consequences of any actions of former Board member Mary Peres, with respect to the finances of the Corporation and to make recommendations with respect thereto, including, as appropriate, modifying or improving internal controls and procedures to prevent recurrence, and making any disclosures.

The Special Committee retained legal counsel, which employed a forensic accounting firm, and the Special Committee directed them to audit every financial transaction as soon as possible.

That audit found that over a seven-year period, former director Mary Peres defrauded New York DECA of at least $1.7 million.

The Special Committee has disclosed these findings to the Internal Revenue Service, federal law enforcement agencies, the New York Charities Bureau and others as necessary.

Additionally, the Special Committee recommended the Corporation promptly commence litigation against the Estate of Mary Peres and/or its administrator and beneficiaries to recover losses incurred from the financial activities of Mary Peres.

“We are a volunteer-led organization, and we operated with an assumption of trust in each other. Unfortunately, we trusted that one of our long-time directors had the best interests of New York DECA at heart. We were wrong. We apologize to all of our student members, advisors, and school administrators,” said Alan Balsdon, Chairperson of the New York DECA Board. “We can assure you that we have instituted new and robust financial controls and oversight. Additionally, we are pursuing litigation to try to recover stolen funds.

Litigation about past events will not impact the current operations of New York DECA. Our programs are proceeding as planned, and we will continue to serve our student members, advisors, and school administrators.

On October 13, 2023, New York DECA filed litigation in Orange County Surrogate’s Court, where the Estate of Mary Peres is being administered. A copy of that litigation can be found here.

For more information, email [email protected].

   Proof Points: Strengthened Financial Controls

      • Conduct monthly reviews of bank statements and reconciliations of bank accounts,
      • Separate check-signing and deposit duties,
      • Create and distribute detailed quarterly profit and loss statements,
      • Present current financial statements at each regular Board meeting,
      • Review budget-to-actual conference income and expense at appropriate intervals,
      • Establish an enhanced expense reimbursement process,
      • Prohibit opening or using any corporate credit or debit card,
      • Require two signatures on all checks above an appropriate threshold,
      • Obtain an annual audit from a qualified accounting firm.

Statement from Board Chairperson Alan Balsdon

“We are a volunteer-led organization, and we operated with an assumption of trust in each other. Unfortunately, we trusted that one of our long-time directors, Mary Peres, had the best interests of New York DECA at heart. We were wrong. We apologize to all of our student members, advisors, and school administrators,” Balsdon said. “We can assure you that we have instituted new and robust financial controls and oversight. Additionally, we are pursuing litigation to try to recover stolen funds.

Litigation about past events will not impact the current operations of New York DECA. Our programs are proceeding as planned, and we will continue to serve our student members, advisors, and school administrators.”