VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Tuesday a lawsuit against Vancouver nonprofit Noble Foundation and its founder and executive director, Ophelia Noble, along with foundation directors, and Noble’s family and friends.

Noble started the foundation in 2012 to serve communities of color in Vancouver, Kelso and Longview. But it suddenly closed permanently in May, leaving more than 40 families in need of rent and utility funds.

Ferguson asserts that since 2019, Noble misappropriated or failed to account for $1 million in charitable grants the foundation received to serve BIPOC communities in southwest Washington.

In addition, Noble allegedly paid herself hundreds of thousands of dollars from foundation funds, used the money to buy vehicles for herself and her mother, and directed the foundation to buy her father’s house then resell it to her at a deep discount.

The lawsuit names Noble, the Noble Foundation, foundation directors and Noble’s parents. Noble’s alleged misconduct includes numerous violations of Washington’s Nonprofit Corporation Act, with penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

Ferguson will ask the court to order Noble and her co-defendants to return the money so that it can be directed to an organization that can use it for its intended charitable purposes, dissolve the foundation, and bar Noble and her other co-defendants from serving on the boards of any Washington nonprofit in the future.

“Preying on the generosity of Washingtonians is shameful — and unlawful,” Ferguson said. “We will hold those responsible accountable and work to ensure the diverted money is paid back and directed towards its intended purpose: advancing racial equity and serving communities of color.”