MONROE, Ga. - The leaders of Angel Food Ministries have settled a lawsuit filed by two of its board members that accused the nonprofit's founding family of using AFM's money to enrich themselves.
Under the agreement, the Wingos will allow an audit of Angel Food Ministries and agreed to stop using corporate credit cards for personal expenses, according to Thomas Rogers, an attorney representing the board members. Rogers said suing board members Craig Atnip of Texas and David "Tony" Prather of Georgia planned to resign from the board.
Rogers told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Atnip and Prather will retain standing to take any actions when the results of the audit come in.
Wingo also signed over ownership of a jet to Angel Food Ministries. Wingo owned the jet and leased the aircraft to Angel Food at a profit of $10,000 a month, according to the lawsuit.
Angel Food sells discount groceries in thousands of communities, including several in York County.
Joe Wingo and his son, Wesley, will retain their roles at the agency. A statement on AFM's Web site notes that "the Wingo family, who founded the ministry and devoted their lives to see it grow, remain at the helm" and says the nonprofit will release more details of the agreement at a later date.
The Wingos themselves declined to comment.
During the hearing in a Walton County, Ga., court Friday, attorneys said Linda Wingo, Joe's wife, left her position with AFM last year and son Andy left in late 2007.
Joe and Linda Wingo founded the nonprofit in 1994. It has grown rapidly, and last year it distributed nearly 6 million boxes of food and donated $5.1 million in benevolence money to the communities it serves. AFM had revenues of $21.3 million in 2006.
The Feb. 25 suit filed by Angel Food board members Atnip Prather alleged the Wingos enriched themselves by at least $2.7 million and directed $600,000 from Angel Food to their church, and then to themselves, as a "housing allowance." The lawsuit alleged the Wingos had charged $852,000 worth of personal expenses on AFM credit cards.
The lawsuit also claimed that Andy Wingo, who was the food buyer for AFM, routinely took kickbacks as part of transactions with food vendors and that at least one family member knew about it.
AFM had called the lawsuit a "power grab" and said the allegations were false.
Atnip and Prather said they were not seeking personal gain but wanted the Wingos to pay back the money they allegedly had taken from the ministry.
The FBI, IRS and the Georgia office of the Secretary of State, which oversees charities, have said they are investigating AFM. None of the agencies has said specifically what it is investigating.
York Daily Record/Sunday News staff contributed to this report.
Ongoing coverage from the York Daily Record/Sunday News:
- Read the lawsuit filed by two board members against Angel Food Ministries and its founding family
- Read full statement from Angel Food Ministries
- Read full statement from AFM board members Craig Atnip and David "Tony" Prather
- Original story: "Charity paid its leaders $2.5 million"
- View Angel Food Ministries' tax forms
Angel Food Ministries' distribution sites in York County, according to the nonprofit's Web site:
Airville -- Pine Grove Presbyterian Church, 862-3579
Dallastown -- Christ Lutheran Church, 244-2605
Dover Township -- Friendship Community Church, 779-0400 or 764-6178
East Manchester Township -- St. Paul United Methodist Church, 266-2506
Hanover -- Hanover Community Church, 451-4834
Hellam Township -- Kreutz Creek Presbyterian Church, 840-0955
Shrewsbury -- Southern Community Services, 227-0048
Spry -- Otterbein United Methodist Church, 741-1429
York city -- Fourth United Methodist Church, 854-6984 or 854-6731