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AG says $200K from bogus veterans charity should go to Easterseals

By SHAWNE K. WICKHAM
New Hampshire Sunday News

December 11. 2017 12:28AM




DANIELLE GOODWIN

The Attorney General’s charitable trusts unit is recommending that Easterseals New Hampshire receive about $200,000 in assets from a discredited — and now dissolved — veterans charity.

Project VetCare Inc., a Hanover-based charity, raised more than $1 million over the years. But an investigation by the Attorney General’s office last year found that the charity’s former executive director, Danielle Goodwin, had “used the bank account of this veterans support organization as her own.”

The investigation revealed that Goodwin had used charity funds to pay for personal and household expenses, vacations and gifts for her children.

Goodwin was charged with misusing charitable funds. And the charitable trusts unit brought a civil action in Grafton County Superior Court in June 2016.

The court removed four board members and appointed a receiver for Project VetCare. The state has since reached settlements with five individuals for restitution, including Goodwin.

That left the matter of how to distribute the remaining assets from Project VetCare. The court approved the distribution of those assets to another charitable organization.

The charitable trusts unit and the receiver then asked for proposals from other veterans groups. The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation helped review 24 proposals from veterans groups.

Thomas Donovan, director of charitable trusts, said Project VetCare was based in the Upper Valley and served veterans there. “So that was an important criteria for us, an organization that was committed to working with veterans in that part of the state,” he said.

And in the end, he said, they decided to award $20,000 to Disabled American Veterans’ transportation department to purchase a new van to transport veterans to the V.A. Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt.

The rest of the funding, about $200,000, will go to Easterseals for its military and veterans services program, Donovan said.

Joe Emmons, senior vice president of development for Easterseals, said his agency and its Veterans Count program “are excited to be able to accept that money and be good stewards of the funds.”

Emmons said Easterseals will use the funding to create a new Veterans Count chapter in the area, recruiting volunteers and members. “It will do a lot of good, to be able to serve more veterans up in the Upper Valley region,” he said.

Donovan said it’s now up to a judge to approve the recommendation for dispersal of the funds. He said he’s satisfied that some good will come out of a difficult situation.

“We were forced to intervene with Project VetCare because of the mismanagement going on and the diversion of assets,” he said. “But in the end, with the help of a receiver, we have been able to collect funds and will be able to put those funds to good use to support veterans programs in the Upper Valley.”

swickham@unionleader.com


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