An Upper Valley non-profit that serves veterans is being shut down after an investigation by the Attorney General’s office found evidence of fraud.
Project VetCare provides housing and support to military veterans, as well as a meeting place for students at Dartmouth College who are veterans. The non-profit, which was formed in 2012, owns two houses in Hanover.
According to a preliminary investigation released Thursday by the state’s Charitable Trust Unit, Danielle Goodwin, the group’s executive director, used donated funds to purchase a Florida cruise vacation, as well as to pay for heating oil and repairs to her home. The investigation also found misuse of funds, including personal loans, by other members of the board of directors.
(Below is a list of inappropriate uses of the non-profit's funds, according to the AG's report.)
“This charity was established to support the brave men and women who have served our country. Some leaders of this charity enriched themselves at the expense of the veterans they were entrusted to help,” said Attorney General Gordon MacDonald. “Veterans deserve our respect and support. It is a deeply disturbing breach of trust that funds raised in their name were instead diverted for a cruise vacation, household expenses and tens of thousands of dollars of improper loans to directors.”
The group had successfully fundraised more than $1 million since its inception, including substantial gifts from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation.
“We feel betrayed by individuals we trusted in the important task of helping our veterans,” the a spokesman for the Foundation said in a statement. “This is a sad result.”
The non-profit has been placed into receivership. With court approval, the group has closed operations and laid off staff. The AG’s office says it hopes to distribute any remaining assets from Project VetCare to other groups in the region who serve veterans.
Settlements were reached with Ms. Goodwin, as well as other members of the board.
(A list of the restitution payments made to the AG's office, per the report.)