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One of Fresno's Biggest Names in Fighting Opioid Addiction Sued for $126K
gvw_edward_smith
By Edward Smith
Published 3 weeks ago on
June 28, 2024

A former employee at Parents and Addicts in Need sued founder Flindt Andersen after he borrowed $120,000 and didn't fully pay it back, according to a lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks $126,000 in damages. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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A lawsuit says one of Fresno’s most prominent names in fighting opioid addiction failed to repay a loan intended to bring a treatment center to Hanford.

A former employee and volunteer with Parents and Addicts in Need — commonly known as PAIN — says the founder of the nonprofit, Flindt Andersen, asked her for a $120,000 loan to start a new treatment facility in Hanford.

The lawsuit from Pamela Smith, who is the founder of Mothers in Grief Support Group, also says Andersen increased his salary without receiving approval from the PAIN board, something Andersen told Smith he wouldn’t do until the loan was repaid in full.

Damages sought by the lawsuit total $126,000.

Payments for Loan Stopped Coming: Smith

In November 2019, Andersen needed money to make a down payment on a residential detoxification and treatment center, according to court documents. Anderson began talking to Smith about the new venture.

Smith began volunteering for the organization, providing grief support, after losing her son Jackson Smith to an accidental fentanyl overdose.

Andersen agreed in writing to borrow $120,000 and repay it within a year with interest. According to court documents, Flindt also promised to hire Smith as a human resources manager and to name a wing of the home after her son.

Smith, in court documents, said she also used her credit card to pay for more than $6,000 of household goods to furnish the residential treatment center.

When November 2020 came around, the debt had not repaid.

Smith met with Andersen’s son Cory about the payment and a new agreement set up monthly repayments and a new interest rate, along with a lump sum of $26,000 by July 2022

The lawsuit states Smith was repaid only $54,000.

Andersen Agreed to Not Take Salary for New Perceptions

The lawsuits points out crossover between New Perceptions North and PAIN.

Smith said while working at PAIN, a lot of work she did was for New Perceptions. In 2020, Andersen directed PAIN to give scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 to three people to provide treatment at New Perceptions.

“(They) were in reality transfers of funds to NPN — with only one of the ‘scholarships’ having been approved by PAIN’s board of directors,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit states that Andersen told Smith he would not take a salary for New Perceptions until she was paid back in full.

When she had been told to scan a bank statement for him, Smith found out that Andersen did take a salary.

The lawsuit also claims Andersen got a raise at PAIN without board approval.

Treating Opioid Addiction a Passion for Both Andersen, Smith

After a 23-year opioid addiction, Andersen founded PAIN. In 2021, the organization was named the 2021 California Nonprofit of the Year. Andersen regularly speaks with media and to groups about the opioid crisis.

Smith started with PAIN after her son died of an overdose. She began as a volunteer for the organization, leading weekly grief support group meetings for mothers affected by opioid addictions of their children. She later became operations director for PAIN until she left in February 2024.

Andersen didn’t return requests for comment made by GV Wire.

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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