Attorney General Pam Bondi yesterday filed a complaint against the Ritz Theatre 100, Inc., a non-profit corporation tasked with renovating and operating The Ritz Theatre in downtown Winter Haven, and Stella C. Heath, Executive Director and consultant for the corporation. The complaint alleges that misconduct and mismanagement by the defendants have placed the future of the Ritz Theatre in jeopardy. Despite substantial grants, gifts, and funding from the State of Florida, the City of Winter Haven, and others to pay for needed renovations and operating costs, the Ritz Theatre remains underutilized, strapped for cash and in peril of closure.
Efforts by several community members to obtain seats on the Board of Directors to help redress management and financial problems have been rejected by the board, which instead improperly filed an unsubstantiated $250,000 lien against the Ritz Theatre property in favor of Heath.
Attorney General Bondi’s Office is seeking the appointment of a receiver to take possession of and preserve all assets of The Ritz Theatre 100, Inc., to manage the corporation and the theatre, to determine all outstanding indebtedness, and to report to the Attorney General’s Office and the court all steps needed to enable the theatre to fulfill its longstanding mission of serving the interests of the Winter Haven community.
The Attorney General’s Office also is seeking an accounting, as well as temporary and permanent injunctive relief, including relief from the improperly-filed lien, to ensure that the theatre’s mission is and will continue to be met.
To view the complaint, click here.