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Former head of Upper Valley veterans non-profit arrested in her driveway for misuse of funds

New Hampshire Union Leader

August 30. 2017 6:15PM


HANOVER — The former executive director of a Hanover-based non-profit formed to aid veterans in the Upper Valley was arrested Wednesday on a felony charge of misusing funds from the charity.

Danielle Goodwin was arrested at 2:15 p.m. in the driveway of her home at 4 Kingsford Road in Hanover, Police Chief Charles Dennis said. Police said Goodwin exercised "unauthorized control" of $24,641.11 in Project VetCare funds while serving as the charity's executive director.

The arrest comes less than a week after a preliminary report was released detailing an investigation by the Attorney General's Office, which found Goodwin used funds to pay for a Florida vacation cruise for her and her family, as well as home improvement projects for members of the board of directors.

Project VetCare, Inc., with locations in Hanover and Lebanon, was established as a charitable organization in 2012 and registered with the Charitable Trusts Unit in 2013. Its goal was to provide assistance to veterans in the Upper Valley region. According to the report, the charity has been closed and its assets are being liquidated.

Goodwin was released on $15,000 personal recognizance bail on the charge of unauthorized taking. She is scheduled to appear in 2nd Circuit District Division Court in Lebanon on Oct. 16.

According to the preliminary report, the AG's Charitable Trusts Unit received a report in March 2016 of possible diversion of Project VetCare's assets. An investigation revealed a diversion of large sums of money by Goodwin, the charity's executive director, for the benefit of her family, an employee and some members of the board of directors.

The investigation determined funds paid for tickets for a Florida vacation on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, a new heating system and oil and propane deliveries and improper loans to directors and an employee.

A review of Project VetCare's finances identified a long list of expenditures, "many apparently for personal use," including a loan to board member Gavin Goodwin of $47,174.65 and debit card charges of $295,528.

"However, due to the charity's deficient financial record-keeping, the full extent of the possible misuse of funds cannot be determined," the report states.

The report details extensive financial conflicts of interest that benefited a majority of the board of directors.

"This charity was established to support the brave men and women who have served our country," Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said in a statement last week. "Some leaders of this charity enriched themselves at the expense of the veterans they were entrusted to help."

According to MacDonald, the directors named in the report have been removed and the organization is being liquidated in receivership.

While many of the individuals named in the AG's report — including Goodwin — have entered into agreements with officials to repay the funds they are accused of taking, Hanover Police Lt. Scott Rathburn said those agreements fall under the category of a civil case.

"This is a criminal charge," Rathburn said of Goodwin.

According to the AG's report, Project VetCare (PVC) provided emergency service to veterans by purchasing goods, making cash payments and issuing loans. It also was active in assisting veterans filing disability claims. PVC offered social events for veterans and conducted fundraising benefits that involved students at Dartmouth College, and connected veterans with students in symposiums at Hanover High School.

According to the report, PVC also raised "well over $1 million from various sources," with more than $800,000 of that from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, a Hanover-based private foundation. Byrne served as CEO of GEICO for 10 years.

A suit was brought in Grafton County Superior Court on June 15, 2016 against Project VetCare, The court has agreed with the receiver's recommendation to liquidate the organization. That process is expected to be completed in the next few months, after collecting the remaining assets of PVC.

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