Noah’s Wish settles with California A.G.
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2007:
SACRAMENTO–The animal disaster relief charity Noah’s Wish is
back in business, after six months of investigation and
restructuring mandated by California attorney general Jerry Brown.
“We have entered into an agreement that will permit Noah’s
Wish to continue serving the animal victims of disasters,” the
Noah’s Wish board of directors posted on July 27, 2007.
“Under the settlement agreement,” reported Associated Press
writer Laura Kurtzman, “the state will take control of the $4
million,” of about $8.4 million raised in appeals for help for the
animal victims of Hurricane Katrina, “that has not yet been spent.
It is supposed to be given to help the animal victims of Katrina,
which happened nearly two years ago, as well as to build a new
animal shelter in Slidell, Louisiana.”
Added Christine Harvey of the St. Tammany bureau of the New
Orleans Times-Picayune, “The agreement stipulates that Slidell will
receive $1 million to build a new animal shelter, though city
finance director Sharon Howes said this week that the Calif-ornia
attorney general’s office is willing to redirect as much as $3
million” for the shelter construction. California attorney general’s
office spokesperson Gareth Lacy told Harvey that he couldn’t confirm
that Slidell would receive the full $3 million, since the money
first must be received from Noah’s Wish.
Wrote Harvey, “The agreement stipulates that the
organization must transfer $3.8 million by Aug. 17, 2007, with the
remaining $200,000 due next July. The agreement also states that
[Noah’s Wish founder Terri] Crisp may not serve as an ‘officer,
director or trustee’ with any nonprofit organization for five years,
though she already has started a new organization called Animal
Resources, which has a purpose similar to Noah’s Wish. She said the
attorney general’s office knows about her involvement at Animal
Resources and approves, as she is not on the board and has no
“Terri Crisp was chosen to fill the position of disaster
operations director,” Animal Resources acting board chair Dean
Richman told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
Animal Resources lists Sheri Thompson as disaster operations
assistant director. Sacramento Business Journal staff writer Kelly
Johnson reported in March 2007 that, “For the second half of 2005,”
in which most of the Katrina donations arrived, “Noah’s Wish paid
$405,948 in salaries and compensation, according to an IRS Form 990
supplied by a former employee. Crisp received $140,900. The next
highest compensation went to Sheri Thompson at $118,125.”
The Form 990 that Johnson obtained is not yet accessible via
<www.Guide-star.org>, which posts charities’ annual filings for the
Internal Revenue Service.
“The attorney general’s office notes in the agreement that
Noah’s Wish spent about $1.4 million on Katrina relief efforts,”
wrote Harvey, “and has $4 million left in the bank. It appears the
organization spent the remaining money ‘primarily to further the
general charitable purpose of Noah’s Wish, including overhead
costs,’ the agreement states.”
But many expenditures were questioned by former Noah’s Wish
administrative assistant Thea Martin and former former Noah’s Wish
bookkeeper Mina Johnson. Among the questioned items, Crisp hired
her daughter, Jennifer McKim, as communications director, and
hired McKim’s boyfriend to do database development.
She also “bought a new, fully loaded Ford Excursion for
herself and a Nissan Titan truck for McKim, as well as horse
trailers and an all-terrain vehicle that Johnson said Crisp’s
children rode on her property,” summarized Harvey.
“The settlement includes a provision that Noah’s Wish must
review its vehicle inventory to determine whether the vehicles
purchased after Katrina are being used in accordance with the
organization’s charitable purpose, and present its findings to the
attorney general’s office for approval,” Harvey added. “Should the
investigators determine the vehicles were not a legitimate purchase,
Noah’s Wish must sell the vehicles and transfer the money from the
sale to the attorney general’s office for distribution to charity.”