BOULDER — An Erie trustee who resigned in January to focus on her international adoption agency is being sued by her brother, who claims she and her husband tried to defraud him out of a $216,000 investment in the company.
In his lawsuit, Joseph Novak III claims his sister Lisa and her husband, Martin Claar, also ran up $8,000 in debt under his name and transferred the adoption agency’s assets to a new company without telling him.
Joseph Novak claims in his suit that while he financed the original company, his sister and her husband — unbeknownst to him — created a new one and transferred the assets to it so they wouldn’t have to repay him.
The adoption agency began life as One Light Adoptions in 2002, but was renamed and legally reconstituted in 2003 as the Claar Foundation. Computers, office space and staff were transferred to control of the Claar Foundation, which kept using the One Light Adoption license, the lawsuit says.
“Lisa Novak informed (him) that if Joseph Novak chose to pursue Lisa Novak and Martin Claar for the promissory note personally, they would declare personal bankruptcy,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Boulder District Court.
Lisa Novak and Claar filed for personal bankruptcy in November 2004. Joseph Novak has filed a claim as a creditor in that case, seeking repayment of the money.
Lisa Novak stepped down from the Erie Board of Trustees in January 2005, saying she wanted to focus on helping children orphaned by the Indonesian tsunami.
When the company was renamed, Lisa Novak said it was to honor her husband’s parents, who had given them money to start the effort. The company’s Web site simply says One Light’s functions were “made part of” the existing Claar Foundation.
In her January resignation letter to the Erie board, Lisa Novak said she could no longer devote sufficient time to her office. She said her work in tsunami-ravaged Southeast Asia called more strongly.
“My time will be absorbed by this project, and I will no longer be able to dedicate sufficient hours to serve on the board of trustees,” she wrote. “I expect our tsunami relief work to require considerable travel in the coming months.”
Reached at home Friday, Lisa Novak declined comment.
Trevor Hughes can be reached at 303-684-5220, or by e-mail at email@example.com.