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Posted: 2018-12-05 15:37:14

December 1, 2018; New Orleans Advocate

As funk band Galactic announces that it has bought famed New Orleans club Tipitina’s from a local businessman, the nonprofit Tipitina’s Foundation finds itself under scrutiny for the founder’s apparent self-dealing.

The foundation, which focused on supporting the city’s music scene, was founded and was, according to these reports, under the control of Roland Von Kurnatowski, the real estate mogul and businessman who, up until last week, had owned the club. Following a pattern perhaps most recently exemplified by examinations of the Trump Foundation,  Tipitina’s Foundation is reported to lack appropriate boundaries between its charitable assets and Von Kurnatowski’s business interests.

Two former board members say they had little access to information about the financial flows between the foundation and for-profit entities controlled by Von Kurnatowski and that they never received written financial reports. (Little wonder, since they never attended nor were asked to attend a meeting.) Among the charitable assets in question were three buildings that were transferred for free from the foundation to businesses that Von Kurnatowski owned or controlled. These were later converted into luxury lofts and retail space.

Making matters worse, he borrowed $500,000 in the name of the foundation and used it to pay a construction company he owned to work on the buildings. Finally, he rented other space he owned to the nonprofit, donating some of the cost and charging for the rest. On its 2016 Form 990, the organization also discloses that it buys accounting, computing, and other services from businesses owned by the founder and president.

“It didn’t seem like he was running it right as a true nonprofit, but he kind of ran it as his business,” said Jeffrey Goldring, a New Orleans businessman and part-owner of the Sazerac Co. and Crescent Crown Distributing, who served as a foundation board member until 2014.

“We’ve been friends with Roland

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