Deceptive OHIO Nonprofit – Caught!


An Ohio charity, the Ohio Clean Water Fund, used the February 3, 2023 hazardous train derailment in East Palestine, OH to bilk generous donors.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said that representatives from the Second Harvest Food Bank complained to his office that the Ohio Clean Water Funds founder, Mike Peppel, claimed the Fund had partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to help residents affected by the train derailment on the Ohio – Pennsylvania border.  Second Harvest Food Bank told Attorney General Yost no partnership had been authorized.  Yost’s offices filed a lawsuit against Peppel and the Ohio Clean Water fund in April.


The Ohio Clean Water Fund sent text messages to solicit contributions, claiming it had partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley to collect donations for bottled water. The charity raised $141,000 from roughly 3,200 donors, but eventually spent more than $100,000 on fees and gave just $10,000 to the food bank.

An agreement was reached with the Ohio Clean Water Fund.  The agreement calls for the charity to dissolve and pay more than $131,000 in restitution and civil penalties. Roughly $117,000 of that amount will go to the food bank for bottled water and other emergency aid for East Palestine, while the $15,000 civil penalty will go into the attorney general’s charitable law fund.

The lawsuit against Peppel is ongoing. For more information visit the Insurance Journal article dated June 9, 2023 at


Unfortunately there are fake and real charities that mislead or deceive generous donors.  Be an informed donor.  You can go to Candid/Guidestar at or the IRS website to conduct research on a specific 501C3 charity.  Be sure and open the most recent IRS Form 990 and read it!  Check the mission statement, use of funds, payment to executives, and more!