AG Yost Opposes Bank Intrusion

AG Yost Opposes Bank Intrusion

COLUMBUS, OH, Oct. 15, 2021 — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, along with 19 other state attorneys general, have sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department in opposition to a new federal policy that would provide the federal government with access to nearly every American’s bank account and financial transaction information.

“This makes the IRS more powerful than the police — even the cops have to at least issue a subpoena. Even the police have to have reasonable, articulable suspicion before they can ‘stop-and-frisk.’ ” Yost said. “This anti-American bill allows real-time spying by the government on law-abiding citizens — all of us, all the time. It must not become law.”

In the letter, the attorneys general argue that banks across the country will have to transform the way in which they conduct business in order to comply with the proposed reporting requirements, including investing significant amounts of money in data collection and other systems. The letter argues that consumers will be punished in many ways, as banks would likely pass on costs in the form of fees or higher interest rates, not to mention the centralized storage of sensitive information would provide cybercriminals with an additional target to exploit with information about nearly every American.

The group says that if stopping financial criminals or punishing those who evade taxes is the goal of the administration, they will gladly join to find the right solutions based on the rule of law, but violating the rights of virtually every American with a bank account is not the answer.

In addition to Ohio, the coalition also includes the attorneys general of the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

Human Trafficking Sting Successful

Human Trafficking Sting Successful

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 4, 2021 — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced that 161 people were arrested and 51 potential human trafficking victims were helped in a statewide operation for which nearly 100 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies partnered with non-governmental and nonprofit organizations.  

Operation Ohio Knows, coordinated through AG Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), was a collaborative effort that took place from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1 to address issues that fuel sex trafficking in Ohio.  

“People who traffic other humans are doing it for a really simple reason — money. And if there’s no demand then there will be no market,” Yost said Monday morning during a press conference at the Statehouse, where he was joined by leaders of law enforcement agencies and social service organizations. “Reducing the demand means we reduce the number of people who are victimized by human trafficking.

“We will not rest until no one in Ohio buys or sells human beings.”

The operation included the arrest of 161 individuals seeking to buy sex – three of who sought to buy sex from minors. During the course of the operation, law enforcement officers also arrested individuals who possessed drugs and/or firearms. Most were charged with engaging in prostitution, a first-degree misdemeanor. A change in state law passed in the spring requires those convicted to undergo human trafficking education, a provision promoted by Attorney General Yost to decrease the demand for prostitution. 

Among those arrested were a teacher, a professor, a firefighter, a pilot, municipal employees, and a city councilman. 

Fifty individuals offering to sell sex – men and women – were arrested. Law enforcement officers interviewed 51 potential human trafficking victims, who were provided services from health care and social services organizations.

A simultaneous operation carried out by the U.S. Marshals Service recovered 10 missing children.

Also participating in the press conference with the attorney general was Mandie Knight, a human trafficking survivor, who spoke about the role law enforcement played on her road to recovery.

“When I was being trafficked, I knew that law enforcement was somewhere I could turn to when I needed a safe way out, and that’s what happened,” said Knight, now resource manager for Freedom a la Cart and a wife, mother, and student in forensic criminology. “Had I not been arrested, had I not gone to jail, and had I not suffered some consequences for the decisions I was making, I wouldn’t be here today and I wouldn’t be as successful in life.”

Operation Ohio Knows is the latest anti-human trafficking operation under Attorney General Yost, whose office hosts an annual human trafficking summit and provides coordination, education, and outreach on the subject.

AG Yost Agrees to Settlement

AG Yost Agrees to Settlement

COLUMBUS, OH, Jan. 14, 2021 — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has agreed to a multistate settlement with an organization that claimed to help wounded veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but instead lined the pockets of the family behind the charity.

Healing Heroes, based in Florida, and its founders, Stacey and Allan Spiegel and their son Neal Spiegel, agreed to settle with 11 states where they solicited donations with bogus promises and misleading fundraisers.

“Ohioans always answer the call when our veterans need help and thought they were doing so here,” Yost said. “But this wasn’t a charity. It was disgraceful sham and we shut it down.”

Hero Giveaways, LLC, the business behind the charity formed by the Spiegel family became the subject of a multistate investigation into its use of deceptive charitable solicitations including misleading sweepstakes mailers and telemarketing campaign. The investigation by Yost’s Charitable Law Section revealed that Ohio donors contributed an estimated $525,544 between 2015-2017 as a result of deceptive sweepstakes mailers and telephone solicitations. 

The organization promised to use donations to help wounded veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive medical treatments that the Department of Veterans Affairs did not readily provide. The charity also falsely claimed on social media in 2016 and 2017 to dedicate 100% of proceeds to wounded veterans.  The investigation revealed that very little of the charitable contributions received by the Healing Heroes Network, Inc. were used to further that charitable mission.

Instead, donations were used to pay professional fundraisers, on-line advertising fees, the salaries of Stacey Spiegel and her son, Neal Spiegel, and to purchase t-shirts from another family’s member’s t-shirt business. The settlement announced today requires Healing Heroes Network, Inc. and Hero Giveaways, LLC to permanently cease all charitable solicitations, and the Spiegel family has agreed to pay $95,000.00 in monetary damages.

The money will go to a veterans’ charity whose mission matches the representations made by Healing Heroes Network, Inc. when they were soliciting donations from the public.

The Spiegels are also subject to a five-year ban from overseeing, managing, or soliciting charitable contributions for any nonprofit organization.

Ohio, along with Florida, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, California, Virginia and Washington are part of the settlement agreement announced this week.

This legal action is part of Operation Donate With Honor, a nationwide consumer protection law enforcement program to combat veterans’ fundraising fraud through education and enforcement. Operation Donate with Honor was coordinated in 2018 by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of State Charities Officials. The program targets fraudulent charities and groups that claimed to be helping veterans, but instead enrich the charities’ founders and professional fundraisers.

When donating, please consider the following tips to help ensure your money goes to the charitable purpose you intend.

When you receive a request to donate money, ask questions.

  • Ask for the charity’s name and web address.
  • Where is its physical location, phone number, and types of programs run by the charity?
  • How much of the donated money supports the programs you want to support?
  • Avoid paying with cash, gift cards, or wire transfers. Payment by these methods is difficult to track and therefore, difficult to recover.
  • Consider donating by using a credit card, which tends to be more secure and trackable.
  • Restrict your giving to organizations that you have personal knowledge of the programs provided or to develop a giving plan that defines in advance what groups you want to support during the year

If the charity is unwilling to answer your questions, that is a red flag. Attorney General Yost also has a searchable database of registered charities in the state, as well as resources to file a complaint.

Additional research of charities can be found at and

Yost Distributes Nearly $1 Million in Funding to Violence Shelters

Yost Distributes Nearly $1 Million in Funding to Violence Shelters

COLUMBUS, OH, May 5, 2020 — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced his office distributed nearly $1 million in funding to domestic violence shelters and coalitions across the state to assist battered men, women, and children in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we have been asked to stay at home, sometimes home isn’t the safest place,” Yost said. “Thanks to the General Assembly, this money will be used to keep life-saving services available to those who need to escape dangerous environments.”

The $950,000 in domestic violence grants and statewide training grants has been awarded evenly amongst 48 shelters across the state with an earmarked 10% ($95,000) going to the statewide domestic violence coalition. The Ohio Domestic Violence Network, a federally-recognized coalition for domestic violence programs in the state, received the training grant so that they can help ensure recipients of the funding abide by federal and state standards for providing trauma-informed services for survivors.

“For the first time ever, Ohio’s domestic violence programs have a stable source of funding from the state’s general fund,” said Mary O’Doherty, executive director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City) who led the effort to make this happen. We also want to thank the Attorney General’s Office for supporting our work and being willing to administer these funds, and, most important of all, the General Assembly for including the line item in Ohio’s budget.”

Funds disbursed will be used to further the recipients’ mission of providing services, including prevention services, to survivors and co-survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking.

The 48 domestic violence shelters who received funding are:

  • Crossroads Crisis Center (Allen County)
  • Appleseed Community Mental Health Center (Ashland)
  • HomeSafe, Inc. (Ashtabula)
  • My Sisters Place (Athens)
  • Auglaize County Crisis Center (Auglaize)
  • Tri-County Help Center (Belmont)
  • YWCA of Hamilton (Butler)
  • Harbor Point (Carroll, Tuscarawas)
  • Project Woman (Clark)
  • First Step – Coshocton (Coshocton)
  • Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center (Cuyahoga)
  • Shelter From Violence (Darke)
  • Turning Point (Delaware, Marion)
  • Safe Harbour (Erie)
  • The Lighthouse (Fairfield)
  • Choices (Franklin)
  • Ohio Domestic Violence Network (Franklin)
  • WomenSafe (Geauga)
  • Family Violence Prevention Center (Greene)
  • Haven of Hope (Guernsey)
  • YWCA of Cincinnati (Hamilton, Preble)
  • Open Arms (Hancock)
  • The Center for Child and Family Advocacy (Henry)
  • Highland County Domestic Violence (Highland)
  • New Directions (Knox)
  • Forbes House (Lake)
  • Lawrence County Domestic Violence (Lawrence)
  • The Center for New Beginnings (Licking)
  • TCN Behavioral Health Services (Logan)
  • Bethany House (Lucas)
  • Compass Family & Community Services (Mahoning)
  • Our Home (Mercer)
  • Family Abuse Shelter (Miami)
  • YWCA of Dayton (Montgomery)
  • Transitions, Inc. (Muskingum)
  • Haven House (Pickaway)
  • Pike County Partnership Against Domestic Violence (Pike)
  • Family & Community Services (Portage, Trumbull)
  • The Domestic Violence Shelter (Richland)
  • Ross County Coalition Against Domestic Violence (Ross)
  • Southern Ohio Domestic Violence Task Force (Scioto)
  • New Choices (Shelby)
  • Alliance Area Domestic Violence (Stark)
  • Battered Women’s Shelter (Summit)
  • YWCA of Van Wert (Van Wert)
  • ARCS of Warren County (Warren)
  • Eve, Inc. (Washington)
  • One Eighty (Wayne)
  • The Cocoon (Wood)

The Ohio Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services Section works with partners to award this grant funding.


Posted by Dan Starcher, public communications specialist for the Wayne County government.

Yost Releases 2020 ‘Yellow Book’ Early

Yost Releases 2020 ‘Yellow Book’ Early

COLUMBUS, OH, March 12, 2020 — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today released the 2020 edition of the Sunshine Laws Manual, a one-stop resource for information on the Ohio Public Records and Open Meetings Acts.

Normally, the release of this book marks the start of Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of access to public information; however, given questions over how to conduct meetings during the COVID-19 disruption, the manual was released early.  

“The public has every right to be concerned when the people’s business takes place behind a shroud of secrecy,” Yost said. “Even during a crisis – and maybe more so then – it is important to keep the public informed so that citizens do not panic and so they can make informed decisions.”

The manual, commonly known as the “Yellow Book,” reflects the past year’s law changes and legal decisions affecting Ohio’s open government laws. The attorney general’s Public Records Unit annually updates the manual to help citizens understand their rights and to help public servants understand their obligations under the laws.  

In addition to its Yellow Book, the Public Records Unit partners with the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office throughout the year to offer free Sunshine Laws training at dozens of locations across the state. Public officials or their designees are required to complete training on Ohio’s Public Records Act at least once per elected term. A full-length version of the training is available online as well.  

The unit also created a model public records policy for local governments to use as a guide when creating their own policies. These resources and more are available on the attorney general’s website at

Sunshine Week is a national initiative promoting government transparency and access to freedom of information resources. Since 2005, it has been recognized annually during the week which includes March 16.


Posted by Dan Starcher, Public Communications Specialist for the Wayne County government.