Nicole Wiesen, who organized the first MomProm for the Jewish Moms of Atlanta, promoted the event in part as a fundraiser for the Jewish Fertility Foundation, and she posted in the JMOA Facebook group that the event raised $15,000 for the foundation.
But Elana Frank, JFF’s executive director and founder, said a check from the Jewish Moms of Atlanta for $4,503 received Nov. 17 was not honored because of insufficient funds. The check was signed by Wiesen with the memo “MomProm Proceeds Net.”
Frank, who had actively promoted ticket sales and sponsorships for the event because of the expected benefit for the foundation, said she could not comment other than to say she is consulting with attorneys and state authorities to address the situation.
The event’s vendors described problems getting paid.
Jodie Sturgeon, who owns For All Occasions and More, catered the event. She said she requested a deposit because it was a large order, but she kept being told that the check was in the mail.
“When I saw Nicole, she asked me if I had received the check,” Sturgeon said. “I told her I didn’t, and she said it was in today’s mail and not to worry about it. Three separate occasions … she said it was in the mail, but I never received it.”
Sturgeon said she has received $2,000 of the $5,100 charged for the event, and she said her attorney has received an additional $777.32.
Another vendor, DJ Camille Weiss, said she received the full amount due, but it took six weeks.
Weiss said Wiesen paid the deposit promptly but made excuse after excuse to delay paying the balance of $575, which included a $200 fee for Weiss’ sound system. At one point, Weiss said, Wiesen expressed surprise at having to cover that additional fee.
“The following week, I sent her an email, and I didn’t hear back from her,” Weiss said. “Another week passed, and Nicole said the check would be in the mail at the end of the week. Another week and a half goes by, and no check. I emailed her again to remind her.”
Wiesen wanted to pay through PayPal, Weiss said, but she doesn’t use PayPal and instead agreed to take a credit card. Weiss said they agreed to meet at a venue where she was DJing, but Wiesen never showed up.
Wiesen eventually said she would drop a cashier’s check in Weiss’ mailbox. The day after Weiss received the check, she heard about MomProm’s financial issues.
“That was so shocking to me,” Weiss said. “Immediately, I thought, I have to deposit (the check). What if it’s not good? It looks as if it’s cleared. This is finally the end of the saga. When someone does something fraudulent, I just don’t put anything past them. I don’t know who they are.”
Wiesen did not return repeated attempts for comment.
The AJT contacted three event sponsors, two of which didn’t know about the financial problems; the third plans no action at this point.
The AJT has obtained what appears to be a forged Internal Revenue Service letter, dated Aug. 31, 2016, and possibly based on a legitimate letter issued to the Jewish Fertility Foundation that day, declaring that JMOA is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization that can accept tax-deductible donations.
An AJT search of the IRS website did not find JMOA listed as tax-exempt. At least one concerned community member followed up with the IRS in mid-November and received a letter saying the JMOA is not an IRS-recognized nonprofit.
The AJT does not know how the letter was used. The sponsors the AJT talked to said they were not told JMOA had tax-exempt status.
Keri Kaufmann, JMOA’s founder, issued a statement separating her group from Wiesen:
“Jewish Moms of Atlanta (JMOA) is a Facebook group that was created to unite Jewish moms across the Atlanta metropolitan area, thereby filling a void within the Atlanta Jewish community. The group has over 3,500 members, both observant and non-observant, from Kennesaw to Alpharetta to the Old Fourth Ward. Members use the group to ask for advice, offer recommendations, sell something, schedule playdates, and advertise events to other members and within the Jewish community as a whole. Nicole Wiesen and I, along with other individuals over time, were administrators of the Facebook group. The Facebook group was not created to be a business or a charity, thus we did not form any business entity. If such an entity exists, it is without my knowledge or consent.
“The Mom Prom was an event for the members of the JMOA community hosted by Ms. Wiesen, who, in addition to being an administrator, was a member of JMOA. Even though JMOA’s name was on the event, I, as well as the group’s other administrator, had no involvement in the planning or execution of the event. Ms. Wiesen has been removed from JMOA until all disputes related to the event have been resolved.
“We do not have any additional details or insight to share at this time but hope we can all move forward together with the goal of being a warm supportive community to each other.”