Friday, January 23, 2015

Pastor Takes Over $1 Million and Gets 3 Year Prison Sentence

by Gary Snyder

The community center was the vision of the Rev. Willard Jones, who at the time was the pastor at Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church.

Jones’ original plan was for an $800,000 recreational center, but over the course of several years he was able to raise $7.2 million for the project, relying heavily on funds from area foundations.


Earlier this month Jones was sentenced to a three-year and one-month prison term for embezzlement and was ordered to repay nearly $1 million that prosecutors say he pillaged from the nonprofit organization he created to build the center.


Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Charity Navigator, Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio (NPR), Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), “Betrayal”, (a movie), NBC (on Charity Fraud…TBD), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Marie Claire, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, Charity Navigator, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, Board Room Insider, USA Today Topics, Accountants News, Newsweek.com, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times, Portfolio Magazine, The Virgin Islands Daily News, NANKAI (China) BUSINESS REVIEW, National Religious Broadcasters newsletter, The Charity Governance Blog, American Chronicle, Palm Beach Post, Detroit Free Press, Oakland Press, Nonprofit World, Socially Responsible Business Forum, PNNOnline, Ohio Nonprofit Resources, Nonprofit Good Practice Guide, Nonprofit Startup Guide, Nonprofit Blog, National Coalition of Homeless Newsletter, Finance and Administration Roundtable Newsletter, MichiganNonprofit.com, CORP! Magazine, Crain’s Michigan Nonprofit, ncrp.org, PhilanTopic, Nashville Free Press, Nonprofit Law Blog, Seniors World Chronicle, Carnegie Reporter, Assoc. of Certified Fraud Examiners Examiner, msnbc.com, Worchester (MA) Telegram and Gazette, Carnegie Corporation of America, EO Tax Journal, Wikipedia: Non-profit Organizations; Parent: Wise Austin, Accountants News, Veterans Today, Answers.com, Far-roundtable, #Nonprofit Report, nonprofithelpnews, nonprofit news; National Enquirer, Northwest Herald, The HelpWise Daily, The #Nonprofit Report, Wikipedia (Nonprofit Organization), Answers.com, Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)

Foundation Liquid(ated) By Board Member

by Gary Snyder


Ronald Craig Smith was on the West Basin Municipal Water District (in Los Angeles) board of directors. 

Smith pleaded guilty Sept. 8 to one count of conflict of interest, and submitted his resignation to the water district as a condition of his plea deal. He was sentenced to 180 days in county jail and five years probation, and was ordered to pay more than $17,000 in restitution to the water district. 

Smith got the water district’s board to make multiple contributions to help sponsor the Adopt A Storm Drain Foundation, a nonprofit educational foundation to promote water conservation. Smith also contributed money from his district outreach fund that did not require board approval.


Prosecutors allege that checks were written from foundation accounts to schools and organizations without any connection to the foundation shortly after receiving the donations from the West Basin Municipal Water District. The money allegedly went toward tuition for Smith’s son and two daughters, along with a $3,500 check to repair his boat.


Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Charity Navigator, Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio (NPR), Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), “Betrayal”, (a movie), NBC (on Charity Fraud…TBD), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Marie Claire, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, Charity Navigator, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, Board Room Insider, USA Today Topics, Accountants News, Newsweek.com, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times, Portfolio Magazine, The Virgin Islands Daily News, NANKAI (China) BUSINESS REVIEW, National Religious Broadcasters newsletter, The Charity Governance Blog, American Chronicle, Palm Beach Post, Detroit Free Press, Oakland Press, Nonprofit World, Socially Responsible Business Forum, PNNOnline, Ohio Nonprofit Resources, Nonprofit Good Practice Guide, Nonprofit Startup Guide, Nonprofit Blog, National Coalition of Homeless Newsletter, Finance and Administration Roundtable Newsletter, MichiganNonprofit.com, CORP! Magazine, Crain’s Michigan Nonprofit, ncrp.org, PhilanTopic, Nashville Free Press, Nonprofit Law Blog, Seniors World Chronicle, Carnegie Reporter, Assoc. of Certified Fraud Examiners Examiner, msnbc.com, Worchester (MA) Telegram and Gazette, Carnegie Corporation of America, EO Tax Journal, Wikipedia: Non-profit Organizations; Parent: Wise Austin, Accountants News, Veterans Today, Answers.com, Far-roundtable, #Nonprofit Report, nonprofithelpnews, nonprofit news; National Enquirer, Northwest Herald, The HelpWise Daily, The #Nonprofit Report, Wikipedia (Nonprofit Organization), Answers.com, Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mid-January Nonprofit Imperative e-Newsletter



Nonprofit Imperative
Your nonprofit browser
January 2015
The twice-monthly newsletter dedicated to:
  • exposing the crisis in nonprofit fraud leadership…a crisis of pervasive and monumental waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, and malfeasance throughout the charitable sector which costs taxpayers and contributors tens of billions of dollars annually; and,
  • seeking reforms that will restore the public’s lost confidence in the sector.
What’s Included:
Skunk of the Month:
‘A real scandal down the road’
Charity Check Up:
Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center
A Thought or Two:
New Covenant Christian Fellowship Center
Nonprofit News-In Case You Missed It:
Princess Cristina of Spain; IRS Scandal; Giving…more
Political/Official Chicanery:
VA; WI; KY; CA; VT; MS; MN; NH; MA; Pa…more
What Do You Think?
  
A BANNER YEAR FOR FRAUD: Exposed embezzlement by paid employees and volunteer workers at public and for- and nonprofit organizations nationwide grew in 2013 by 5% according to the 2013 Marquet International Ltd. Report on Embezzlement. Nonprofits and religious organizations together account 11.9 percent of all cases. They represent only 5.4 percent of GDP. (Urban Institute)                                                    ------------------
A Harris Poll found that 17.6 million Americans lost an estimated $8.6 billion to phone fraud in 2013. Urgent requests for recent disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone. (The Jackson Sun)

“To do good, donors must do their homework,” (source)
Skunk of the Month…
Skunk of the Month is the twice-monthly designation made by Nonprofit Imperative, the organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in nonprofits and government. The Skunk of the Month award is given to charities and government officials who show blatant disregard for the interests and trust of contributors and taxpayers. This month’s example is:
             “They came to do good and they did very well indeed (for themselves).”
Nonprofit Sector Facing A Major Scandal?
The nation's nonprofit sector is proliferating, just as resources available to federal and state oversight arms shrink or stagnate. Marcus S. Owens has observed troubling trends since stepping down as director of the Internal Revenue Service's exempt organizations division 14 years ago.
The number of American nonprofits filing annual returns nearly doubled in the past decade, up to nearly 1.1 million in 2013, IRS data show.
Meanwhile, the IRS lost the equivalent of more than 12,000 full-time positions and nearly $1 billion. In 2013, the IRS examined 0.71 percent of charitable organizations, down from 0.81 percent in 2011 and lower than rates for individuals (1 percent) and corporations (1.4 percent), the Government Accountability Office wrote in a report this month.
“The agency's attitude toward tax-exempt (oversight) seems to be moving to one of, ‘It's not worth the hassle,' ” said Owens, who spent 25 years with the IRS before taking a job as a Washington attorney.
“I think it's setting the stage for a real scandal down the road.”
Its big money:
By the numbers
• $137 billion — Government paid to American nonprofits in grants and contracts for services in 2012
• $48 billion — Cost of federal tax deductions for contributions to charities in 2013
• 1.63 million — Tax-exempt organizations in United States
• 274,000 — Charities filed tax returns in 2013
• 0.71 percent — Charities audited by IRS in 2013 (source)
Charity Check Up:
Decimated Agency and Conflicts Ignored By Governor 
In the last few years that Ronald L. Walker II served as chairman of the board of Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center, his own business — Next Street Financial — charged the center hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees for board development and strategic planning, documents show. This ended in a financial collapse. In spite of that Governor-elect Charlie Baker named Walker the state’s next secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, Heralding his work as a cofounder of Next Street Financial, which is a merchant bank that invests in small businesses and advises entrepreneurs in urban areas.
Walker had been among those meeting with federal regulators, who detailed the many program requirements RoxComp was failing to meet and specifically cited Next Street’s contract as a concern, said one former employee who had direct knowledge of the situation.
The regulators also faulted the health center for failing to require board members to disclose potential conflicts of interest. Both concerns were echoed in a draft of the report later issued by the federal regulators.
By then, Walker apparently had stopped working with the board, although verifying the exact date is difficult given the lack of record-keeping at the center.
Board oversight and governance problems were heavily criticized in federal reports on the center that preceded its demise. Walker’s company was paid since 2008 to strengthen the center’s planning and governance. Board oversight and governance problems were heavily criticized in federal reports on the center that preceded its demise. Walker’s company was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2008 to strengthen the center’s planning and governance.
The bureau faulted the health center’s board for lack of preparedness, saying they had “little if any formal Board orientation or ongoing training and development,” according to the draft report. “Not all of the Board members clearly understood their roles and responsibilities or liabilities as a Board member.”
The center still owed employees $266,722 and owed the city $25,859 and the state Division of Unemployment $761,400, according to court documents.
A Thought or Two:

Nonprofit Charter School Opens Up On “trade secrets”

After a massive and costly renovation of the 13,000-square-foot building and six months later, New Covenant Christian Fellowship Center, Church of God in Christ opened its doors. Just beyond those doors is a giant portrait of Pastor Wooten was hung.
Barely three years later, the church’s founder is behind bars, accused of embezzling $6.4 million from the city of Pasadena (CA), where he was employed as a management analyst in the Public Works Department. Using fake invoices, more than two-thirds of the fund’s total payments were stolen over the course of a decade, according to an audit of the fund.
Wooten allegedly directed more than $700,000 of the stolen funds to an account bearing the church’s name. Wooten also allegedly directed $2.1 million to the Southern California Evangelistic Jurisdiction Center. Despite its similarity in name to New Covenant’s parent organization, Bishop Milton says they are not related. He said the two churches named in the embezzlement scheme are “affiliated with Pastor Wooten alone.”
Beyond the churches, a lot of entities are affiliated with the name Danny Wooten. Karate companies, a preschool, a music studio, a magazine, various nonprofits — Wooten has started them all, according to state business license and tax records. And in addition to being a pastor and city bureaucrat, the North Carolina native is also an author and playwright. Some say womanizer, crook and maybe even abuser should be added to the list, according to city and court records.
And despite his varied entrepreneurial ambitions, court records also show Wooten has time and time again found himself in rough financial waters — facing bankruptcy, evictions, tax liens, and thousands of dollars in back child support.
The church is funded entirely through member offerings and receives no funding from the Church of God in Christ, Bishop Milton said. And though its website (taken down following Wooten’s arrest) said it has 100 active members, videos of Sunday sermons on its Facebook page show a more sparse crowd.
Tax forms for the non-profits show $0 in income, but they are incomplete and such forms are not even required for organizations that earn less than $50,000. (source)

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Nonprofit News…
In Case You Missed It:
1.     MADRID -Princess Cristina of Spain was ordered to stand trial along with her husband, Iñaki Urdangarint ---the first direct member of the royal family in modern history to answer charges in court. Cristina’s problems stem mostly from her role in Aizoon, a real estate and consulting company that she owned with her husband. Aizoon is one of the companies that Urdangarin is alleged to have created to siphon fees paid to his Nóos Institute, the foundation that he used to organize sports events.
2.     The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released its latest report on the IRS “scandal” and its final report under the chairmanship of Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). After spending the last year and a half on its investigation, the committee has not found any evidence that the Obama Administration orchestrated the “scandal.”  The most the committee could find is “flagrant and pervasive management failures by Washington [IRS] officials.” The report represents findings from the review of over 1.3 million pages of documents and 52 transcribed interviews with IRS, Treasury, and Justice Department employees. The report’s conclusion reads in part that Conservative organizations were not just singled out because of their political beliefs—they were targeted by IRS officials and employees who expressed a general loathing toward them even while begrudgingly admitting that those organizations were in compliance with the only thing the IRS should care about---the federal tax code.
3.     Online giving in December rose nearly 13 percent compared with the same month a year earlier, according to a sample of more than 10,000 groups that use the online-donation processor Network for Good. The total for December—$44.1-million—was boosted by particularly strong giving at the very end of the month. Network for Good said it processed $9.9-million in charitable donations on December 31, more than double the amount given on December 30, the next-most lucrative day that month. The last-day-of-the-year sum reflected donations from 42,559 people, an increase of more than 76 percent over the number of people who donated the previous day. The last week of the year netted $21.8-million in Network for Good donations, given by 101,968 people. The total for the month represented an increase of 49 percent above December giving in 2011. (source)
4.     Less than a year after the Detroit Institute of Arts promised to contribute $100 million to the so-called grand bargain rescue fund at the core of the city's bankruptcy restructuring plan, the museum has crossed the finish line.
We flagged these few examples of nonprofit mischief 
1.     Pembroke Friends of Football (NH) $13,000
2.     Larimer County Child Advocacy Center  (CO) $17,500
3.     Progressive Community Services (MO) unknown
4.     Newton County Community Services (IN) $38,000
5.     Spring Hill College  (AL) $186,000
6.     Traverse City Area Public Schools (MI) $58,000
7.     CMS Cheer boosters (NC) unknown
8.     Association of Africans Living (VT) $34,000
9.     South Arsenal Neighborhood Development Corp (CT) $205,000
10.  Casper Youth Baseball (WY) more than $65,000 
11.  Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, Division 261 (KS) $17,000
12.  Idaho Select, Inc. $1.6 million
13.  University of Nebraska at Kearney $32,049
14.  Advance (SD) $37,000
15.  Allied Veterans of the World (FL) $571,000
16.  McLean County Deputies Fraternal Order of Police $100,000
17.  American Postal Workers Union (APWU) (SD) $37,000
18.  Service Employees International Union Local 323 (OH) unknown
19.  Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center (LA) $70,000
20.  Navy SEAL Foundation (VA) not disclosed
21.  Traverse City Area Public School (MI) $58,000
22.  Greater Cornerstone Community Development Project (OK) $1 million
23.  Friends of the Conservatory at Volunteer Park (WA) $86,000
24.  Association of Africans Living in Vermont $34,000
25.  Mighty Oaks Children's Therapy Center (NY) multiple thefts
26.  New Jersey Youth Club $190,000
27.  Harbor Humane Society (MI) $4800
Political/public official chicanery (just a few):
1.     The former chief of contracts for International Relief & Development (IRD) in Arlington Va., one of the largest non-governmental organizations to work in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been indicted on federal bribery charges. Prosecutors say he accepted $66,000 in bribes in exchange for directing work to the Afghan subcontractor
2.     Robert Davis, a self-proclaimed reformer who rallied against corruption in government in a series of lawsuits, is going to prison for 18 months for the same types of crimes he railed against….$200,000 embezzlement in MI
3.     The former executive director of the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Louisville School of Medicine has pleaded guilty to stealing $2.8 million
4.     The L.A. County district attorney's office has charged a city employee and two others in an alleged decade-long embezzlement scheme  that involved more than $6 million in public funds. The allegedly generated false invoices from a Pasadena-based company for undergrounding utility work, and the company, in turn, cut checks to him and churches with which he was affiliated. "We failed as an organization and as a staff to allow this to happen," the city administrator said. (see A Thought or Two above)
5.     A former Camptonville (CA) postal worker is charged with embezzling more than $9,500 through a money order scheme.
6.     A former Weybridge (VT) town clerk and treasurer convicted of stealing more than $400,000 from the town lost a bid to have her two-year prison sentence cut short. She served as town clerk and treasurer for 27 years in the community of less than 1,000 residents, pleaded guilty in March 2012 to embezzling $412,793 from the town throughout a six-year period.
7.     The former Stone County (MS) Economic Development Partnership executive director is accused of embezzling more than $24,000.
8.     A former fire Jenny Lind Fire Protection District (CA) secretary was sentenced to 180 days in jail and five years probation for embezzlement of $88,000
9.     A former treasurer of the Minnesota State Fire Department Association is charged with embezzling $188,000 over 4 years.
10.  A longtime Troy (NH) official is charged in connection with the embezzlement of thousands of dollars in town funds over a 6-year period.
11.  Brimfield’s (MA) former treasurer has pleaded guilty to embezzling about $80,000 from the town.
12.  Officials with the Owosso (MI) Fire Department thought they were receiving a $5,600 check from a local nonprofit organization. Instead, they received nothing. Now, it is alleged that the man who was responsible for donating the proceeds from an annual fundraiser held last spring kept it for himself — to spend on personal bills and casino gambling.
13.  A Masontown (PA) councilwoman who is accused of taking $1,610 from a community nonprofit while serving as its treasurer has resigned her seat, according to the mayor. She is charged with several misdemeanor counts in connection with the alleged theft and doctoring of bank statements for Masontown Matters.
Readers, weigh in as to what you think…please continue the tips (they are very helpful) gary.r.snyder@gmail.com
Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however there is money missing. On rare occasions, there may be duplicates.

Cites in various media:
Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Charity Navigator, Washington Post, National Enquirer, The Patriot-News, Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, New York Times, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, In Touch, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, msnbc.com, Marie Claire, Ethics World, Tactical Philanthropy, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, Board Room Insider, USA Today Topics, Accountants News, Newsweek.com, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, , Portfolio Magazine, The Virgin Islands Daily News, NANKAI (China) BUSINESS REVIEW, National Religious Broadcasters newsletter, The Charity Governance Blog, American Chronicle,  Palm Beach Post, Detroit Free Press, Oakland Press, Nonprofit World, Socially Responsible Business Forum, PNNOnline, Ohio Nonprofit Resources, Nonprofit Good Practice Guide, Nonprofit Startup Guide, Nonprofit Blog,  National Coalition of Homeless Newsletter, The Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual, MichiganNonprofit.com, CORP! Magazine, Crain’s Michigan Nonprofit, ncrp.org, PhilanTopic, Nashville Free Press, Nonprofit Law Blog, Seniors World Chronicle, Carnegie Reporter, Assoc. of Certified Fraud Examiners Examiner, msnbc.com, Worchester (MA) Telegram and Gazette, Carnegie Corporation of America, EO Tax Journal, Wikipedia: Non-profit Organizations; Parent: Wise Austin, Accountants News, Veterans Today, VPR News,
·       Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (Xlibris, 2011)
  • Nonprofits: On the Brink (iUniverse, 2006)
  • The Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual, Governance Section
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Email: gary.r.snyder@gmail.com; 248/324-3700;
Gary Snyder is the author of Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (Xlibris, June, 2011) and Nonprofits: On the Brink (iUniverse, February, 2006) and articles in numerous publications. The book can be bought at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, Barnes and Noble (store)
© Gary R. Snyder, All Rights Reserved, 2014