NH AG: Ex-director of veteran's charity bought heating system, cruise tickets with funds
CONCORD — The director of a charity for veterans has been arrested and the charity will be liquidated after an investigation revealed they were using charitable funds for their own gain.
Hanover police said they arrested former Project VetCare executive director, Danielle Goodwin, 46, of Hanover, at her home Monday. She is charged with theft by unauthorized taking, a class A felony.
Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald previously released a preliminary report detailing the results of their investigation into the use of funds at Project VetCare Inc. (PVC), a charitable organization formed to provide assistance to
veterans in the Upper Valley region.
The report said the investigation began in March 2016 after the Charitable Trusts Unit received a report alleging possible diversion of the organization's funds.
The report claimed that PVC directors Danielle and Gavin Goodwin had oil delivered and repairs made to their Hanover home in March 2016 that was paid for by PVC.
The Charitable Trusts Unit obtained copies of invoices which showed that Dickinson & Son Inc. provided $2,797.17 of heating system repairs to their home between Oct. 20, 2014, and Feb. 25, 2016, at the expense of PVC.
The report said that Irving Energy Inc. provided $24,641.11 of heating system installation and oil and propane deliveries to that residence between Dec. 12, 2014, and Feb. 22, 2016, which were also paid for by PVC.
At a meeting in the Attorney General’s office on May 9, 2016, the Charitable Trusts Unit disclosed this information to Robert L. Chambers, the chair of PVC's board of directors and asked that the directors take action. During telephone conversations with Chambers and three other directors on May 16, 2016, and May 18, 2016, investigators learned that Danielle Goodwin had purchased tickets for a vacation to Florida on a Royal Caribbean Cruise using PVC funds.
At a May 19, 2017, meeting of the PVC board of directors, they considered the request of the Director of the Charitable Trusts Unit that PVC hire legal counsel and an accountant to investigate Danielle Goodwin’s transactions with the organization.
The report said they also considered the request of the director to place Danielle Goodwin on leave pending the investigation; however, a majority of the board voted against both proposals. The only board members who voted in favor of the investigation were Mark Parton, John Donovan and Andrew Steele, while Chambers, both Goodwins and Dana Pirovane voted against the proposals.
At that same meeting, the report said that Danielle Goodwin revealed to the directors that she had taken “stipends” in lieu of salary from PVC, and that PVC had made loans to two directors and a car loan of $15,000 to a staff member, Mindy Bergman.
It also was revealed in this meeting that Chamber's daughter had been receiving payment from PVC for helping the organization with its fundraising, but none of these conflict-of-interest transactions were approved by a vote of the board of directors, as is required by law.
Donovan, Steele and Parton all resigned from the board of PVC the day after the meeting, and the report called their decisions "principled and courageous."
Since the remaining directors had voted against an outside investigation into Danielle Goodwin's activities at PVC, the director filed a lawsuit in Grafton County Superior Court on June 15, 2016, seeking to remove the executive director and the board of directors.
The court then made preliminary orders on that same day removing Danielle Goodwin, Gavin Goodwin, Chambers and Pirovane from the board of directors and appointing John A. Gilbert, a business consultant with extensive nonprofit experience as the receiver of PVC.
MacDonald said Gilbert has entered into agreements with select individuals who donated to have some of their funds restored, but due to the charity’s deficient financial record-keeping, the full extent of the possible misuse of funds couldn't be determined.
After liquidation, the report said another charitable organization serving veterans will receive any remaining funds.
Danielle Goodwin was released on $15,000 personal recognizance bail and is scheduled to appear in Lebanon district court on Oct. 16.