Monday, 30 July 2012

 Creeps: (Part X)

There are some real detestable creeps in this world who solicit money for their charities that they have created so that they can use some of the money they collected for their own enjoyment and not so much for the beneficiaries of their charities.  

 This article is about one of those scumbags. Her name is Terri Crisp who created a charity which she called, Noah’s Wish and in which she founded in California in 2002. The purpose of her organization was to solicit money which was to be used to rescue animals that have been abandoned in areas of disasters such as the Katrina Hurricane that ravaged the Gulf coast of the US in 2005. After that particular disaster, she and others in her organization went to Slidell, Louisiana and found an empty warehouse there. She gathered cages, pet food, and volunteers, and went to work. Now this seems like a worthy cause—and it would have been if it had been done as planned.

 Noah's Wish spent several weeks in Slidell after the Hurricane and it received more than $8 million in donations from around the United States.

 Former Noah's Wish employees and volunteers contacted by The Times-Picayune said they believe Crisp mishandled the money, using it to purchase equipment they deemed unnecessary, office furniture and supplies such as television sets, paintings, and vehicles that Crisp and her daughter drove for personal purposes.
In addition, Crisp's annual salary rose in the months after the Katrina Hurricane to nearly $141,000, up from a reported $6,000 or so the year prior, according to the organization's 990 federal tax form for 2005. Sheri Thompson, Crisp's second-in-command, earned $118,000 the same year.

 The office of the Attorney General of California finally stepped in and conducted an investigation into Noah's Wish operation.

 The investigators learned that Terri Crisp accepted a $35,000 check on behalf of her organization that was intended to provide shelter for Katrina's animal refugees, but instead the money went toward the purchase of a new luxury vehicle for herself, as well as artwork, television sets, and also nepotistic spending for her family members. Mina Johnson, who worked as the organization's bookkeeper from September 2005 to May 2006, said she questioned Crisp's spending practices, particularly where Crisp’s daughter was concerned. She also noted the vehicle purchases, saying Crisp bought a new, fully loaded Ford Excursion for herself and a Nissan Titan truck for her daughter, as well as horse trailers and a Gator, (an all-terrain vehicle) that Johnson said Crisp's children rode on her property.

 Once the investigation began, Martin (an employee of Noah's Wish) said someone from the attorney general's office asked her about Crisp using company vehicles for personal use and buying dinners on the Noah's Wish credit card. Martin said she confirmed these practices to the investigator, and not long thereafter, Crisp fired Martin, telling her that she “had betrayed her confidence.” Crisp later said the board fired Martin because she couldn't do her job. That isn’t the first time a whistleblower got sacked and later was denounced by the organization or firm as someone who couldn’t do his or her job properly.

 The government Investigators looked into the following allegations:

 (1) that contributions made to Noah’s Wish for the purpose of rescuing and caring for the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina were not used for this specific purpose;

 (2) that Noah’s Wish did not properly classify and account for the contributions received following Hurricane Katrina;

 (3) that Noah’s Wish lacked adequate fiscal controls over its funds; and

 (4) that problems existed regarding board governance.

 After the California government’s investigation was concluded. It ruled that that Crisp and Amy Maher, (who was the chairman of the Board of Directors of Noah’s Wish) were not conducting themselves in the best interest of the organization, a Mutual Settlement Agreement and Release was prepared by the government and signed by California’s Deputy Attorney General, former Noah’s Wish founder and director Terri Crisp, and current Noah’s Wish Board Chair Amy Maher.

Noah’s Wish had agreed to relinquish the $4 million that remained in its coffers to help the storm's animal victims, particularly those in hard-hit Slidell. The agreement stipulated that Slidell will receive $1 million to build a new animal shelter, though city officials said this week that the attorney general's office is willing to redirect as much as $3 million to Slidell to pay for a new shelter. Sharon Howes, the city's finance director, said she spoke with the deputy attorney general who brokered the agreement, and she told Howes that Slidell should be eligible for the additional money.

If only $4 million of the proceeds collected was left in Noah’s Wish’ coffers, where did the rest of the money go?

In part of the settlement in which Crisp agreed to, it said;

Noah’s Wish agrees that it will not appoint Terri Crisp to the Board of Directors nor will it employ her in any manner. Terri Crisp agrees that she will not serve as an officer, director or trustee, or in any position having the duties or responsibilities of an officer, director, or trustee, with any non-profit organization for a period of five (5) years from the execution of this Settlement Agreement.”

Now when people sign settlement agreements, they are expected to honour the agreements. Honourable people do but then Crisp is hardly an honourable person.

Despite the fact that Terri Crisp agreed not to take another high-level position at another charity following a state probe into Noah's Wish, a filing with the North Carolina secretary of state's office last year, SPCA International named Crisp in its list of officers and directors.

CNN found that the charity, SPCA International, misrepresented one of its programs called "Baghdad Pups" on its tax filings and hired an officer for that program with a questionable background. This organization was claiming that it was rescuing dogs used by the US military in Afghanistan. A photo from SPCA International shows the military dogs that the charity said it is bringing to the U.S. for adoption. However those 26 service animals were not attached to military K-9 units but belonged to Reed Inc., a private contractor that built roads in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Crisp has quickly founded another non-profit organization she calls, Animal Resources and like Noah’s Wish, her new organization focuses on rescuing and caring for animals from disaster areas.

Non-profit? Listing a charity as being a non-profit organization when it is operated by dishonest people is like calling the Pacific Ocean a puddle of water.

 However, I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I was unable to find any evidence of any wrongdoing on Terri Crisp’s operation of Animal Resources. Only time will tell if she has reformed.

The AIP (American Institute of Philanthropy-now called Charity Watch) ) along with AARP (American Association of Retired People), the National Association of Attorneys General, the National Association of Secretaries of State and a few other public service organizations partnered with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and over 60 law enforcers in a 48-state sweep of questionable charities, fundraising companies and individuals. The sweep, which included 76 law enforcement actions, focused on so-called ‘hero charities’ that purport to raise money for police, firefighters and veterans.

 Many people derive great enjoyment from donating money to various charities, clubs, programs, and religious or other organizations. But how do you know where your donations go? If you donate money, do you really know how much of your donation is spent by the charity on overhead, and how much of it is actually used for the purpose for which you gave it? If you donate clothing, food, or other items, are they freely distributed or sold for a reasonable cost to those who are having financial difficulties or are they sold for profit by the organizers?

Unfortunately there are many charities out there that are either fraudulent or less than forthcoming with their records. A good way to find out whether or not a public charity is legitimate is to find out if they qualify as a ‘tax exempt’ organization with the IRS. To do this, you can request a copy of their IRS Form 990, (Return of Organization Exempt Form Income Tax.) Federal law requires public charities to send you a copy of its IRS Form 990 for a reasonable charge, upon request. In addition, you can request a copy of the organization’s Annual Report. Canada also has a list of Canadian charities that are deemed legitimate and tax exempt. If the charity you are investigating isn’t tax exempt, then avoid any further contact with it because only legitimate charities are tax exempt. Use these services if you are seriously considering donating to any charity whose name you are unfamiliar with.

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