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Former city animal commissioner sued over foundation payments

The former head of Chicago Animal Care and Control is being sued by the state, which wants an accounting of $70,000 paid to her mother and friend by a non-profit humane society she runs.

The suit cites seven payments made by the People and Animals in Community Together Humane Society, an Illinois not-for-profit formed in March 2000 and run by Cherie Travis.

Travis was fired as the city’s animal care and control commissioner in May, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel never specified why.

The humane society, a not-for-profit organization, states in its bylaws that directors should not be compensated, but, according to the suit, Travis wrote at least seven checks totalling $70,000 in “questionable PACT disbursements” to her mother and close friend Jeff Abbott between September 2009 and January 2011.

Travis’ former position with the city was not mentioned in the suit, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court by Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Travis has been president and director at the humane society since at least 2009, and Travis’ mother, Judith Mason — who served as a director from 2009-2012 — was paid $55,000, the suit says. Mason was also the organization’s treasurer from 2009 to 2011.

Abbott, who was not an employee or affiliated with the organization, received $15,000, the suit says.

“In the absence of an accounting showing that such uses were proper, a legal presumption arises that any unaccounted-for assets were misused,” the suit says.

The suit calls for a “strict accounting” of the $70,000 and for the court to find that Travis and Mason violated the Illinois Solicitation for Charity Act. It also wants the court to temporarily and permanently enjoin Travis and Mason from soliciting or receiving charitable contributions on behalf of any Illinois-based charitable entity, or from disbursing any PACT assets or funds.

Travis said Tuesday afternoon that she has not seen the suit, “but I understand it to be a request for an accounting, which I will be happy to provide.”

She said she is confident that the accounting she provides “will demonstrate that all [PACT] financial affairs are in order.”

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