Financial concerns about Greyhound Friends
The greyhound rescue Greyhound Friends of Hopkinton is under investigation by the Public Charities Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, which investigates allegations of misappropriation of charitable assets and breaches of fiduciary duty.
Concerns about Greyhound Friends' finances
Learn more about the financial questions surrounding Greyhound Friends and the Massachusetts Attorney General's investigation into the charity.
March 2017: The WBZ-TV I-Team reports that Greyhound Friends is under investigation by the Public Charities Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. The office investigates allegations of misappropriation of charitable funds and breaches of fiduciary duty.
April 2017: Charity watchdog group Charity Navigator issues a donor advisory about Greyhound Friends. The advisory system alerts the public to charities that engage in unethical or illegal actions.
May 2018: The state Attorney General’s office recently expanded its financial investigation into Greyhound Friends “to determine whether charitable funds have been applied to charitable purposes or if breaches of trust have been committed,” according to a MetroWest Daily News report.
Two-year AG investigation comes to an end
August 2018: Boston 25 News reports on the Massachusetts Attorney General's two-year-long investigation into Greyhound Friends founder Louise Coleman and the misuse of donor funds. A resulting judgment in the Suffolk Superior Court requires Coleman to pay $40,000 to another Massachusetts greyhound group and ordered not to have any official role at Greyhound Friends or any fiduciary role at any other Massachusetts public Charity. Watch the news story.
A review of the charity's five most recent annual IRS filings reveal that Greyhound Friends took in more than $3.5M in five years -- yet records show they neglected sick and injured dogs. During that time, the charity:
* Spent more than $135,000 in travel expenses, including overseas travel for friends and board members
* Paid more than $197,000 on PR and advertising
* Loaned thousands of dollars to a relative of the charity's founder
Greyhound Friends' most recent annual filing with the IRS shows that:
* The highest paid consultant was a greyhound racing breeder, who was paid $46,960.
* The executive director's neighbor was paid $45,507 for website and educational films.
* The charity’s expenses exceeded its income by $295,382.
* The executive director was responsible for custody of funds, distribution of funds, custody of financial records, and authority to sign checks. It is common practice for charities to have separation of these duties to prevent any chance of fraud.
* The charity “forgave" a receivable of $15,812 to another organization run by the same director. When asked about this transaction by a news reporter, Greyhound Friends Board President Stoddard Melhado claimed he didn’t know anything about it.
Governance agreement details
August 2018: The MetroWest Daily News reported that Greyhound Friends reached an agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office after a nearly two-year investigation revealed lack of corporate oversight and financial controls.
The deal acknowledges that the organization’s Board of Directors failed to provide sufficient oversight of former Executive Director Louise Coleman and to “ensure management and operations decisions were made in the best interest of the organization.”
As part of the deal, Coleman can no longer be appointed or employed in any official capacity with the organization that she founded 1983, which includes paid or unpaid roles in finance, operations, dog adoption, or kennel management. As part of the agreement, the [Greyhound Friends] "board must not undermine any judgements against Coleman individually."
The board must also correct any “material misstatements” on its tax filings for fiscal years 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016."