SPCA International controversy heats up after New York Times exposé

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2008:
MONTREAL, NEW YORK– Run an online
search for the web coordinates of the Montreal
SPCA, also known as the Canadian SPCA, and one
is likely to find www.SPCA.com.
This was the Montreal SPCA web address
for years, but somehow it was claimed by Pierre
Barnoti, executive director of the Montreal SPCA
from 1995 to March 2008.
Barnoti transferred www.SPCA.com to SPCA
International, an entity he incorporated in
Delaware, initially using a New Hampshire
mailing address and now using an address in
Washington D.C.
Now, reported Brad Stone of The New York
Times on May 18, 2008, “The new board members
at the Montreal SPCA,” having ousted Barnoti in
March 2008, “are looking at how to get their
domain name back.

“If Pierre Barnoti transferred this
domain name to another company, that was not in
the best interest of the Montreal SPCA,”
Montreal SPCA board member Wendy Adams told
Stone. “It appears he has used this asset to his
own benefit. It’s self-dealing, and it’s a
breach of fiduciary duty,” Adams alleged.
Adams, a law professor at McGill
University, is noted for her work on
international intellectual property rights issues.
The SPCA International web site includes
an extensive legal notice indicating that Barnoti
and associates have also claimed numerous other
names. “References to ‘SPCA’ in this document,”
the notice stipulates, “mean SPCA International,
Inc., its affiliates, subsidiaries, divisions,
operational designees, and community sites
(including, for example, SPCACA, SPCANY,
SPCAFL, SPCAUSA, SPCA Foundation).” The notice
also contains an eight-point set of instructions
for “Alleging copyright infringement.”
“In an effort to beef up the group’s web
presence, Barnoti consulted Paul Irwin,” wrote
Stone, affirming earlier reportage by ANIMAL
PEOPLE. Irwin was a vice president of the Humane
Society of the U.S. from 1975 to 1996, and was
president of HSUS from 1996 to 2004. He has
recently headed the American Bible Society.

Richard Gordon

“In an interview, Irwin said that he
introduced Mr. Barnoti to Richard Gordon,” Stone
continued. “Gordon’s company designed the
SPCA.com site, and James D. Winston, a longtime
business associate of Gordon, is listed on tax
documents as the organization’s executive
director. SPCA International declined to make
Mr. Winston available for an interview.
“It’s not clear how much Gordon profits
from his work on SPCA International,” wrote
Stone. “But the chief executives of
petsupplies.com, an e-commerce partner listed on
the SPCA.com site, and Pet-Togethers, an
advertiser on the site, both say their company’s
financial relationship is not with SPCA
International but with a separate entity, the
SPCA Foundation. According to California
corporate records, the foundation was registered
as a for-profit company last August by Gordon’s
lawyer,” Miles Woodlief.
“Gordon appears to have no operational
role” at SPCA International, Stone assessed.
“The group is involved in a range of initiatives.
Every few weeks, SPCA International selects a
‘shelter of the week’ from around the world and
then asks for money for that shelter. Four of
five shelters that were awarded this distinction
over the past two months,” Stone wrote, “say
that they received a $1,000 check and a plaque
for the honor–but not a percentage of any
donations. The fifth shelter, Welfare of Our
Furry Friends, in West Sacramento, California,
says it received $48.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE polled SPCA International
“shelter of the week” designees in January 2008,
finding similar results.
Stone’s exposé, titled “An E-Commerce
Empire, From Porn to Puppies,” focused on
“In 1979, six years after being
honorably discharged from the Navy,” Stone
recounted, Gordon was found by FBI agents “in a
closet of a friend’s apartment in Washington,
D.C. On a living room table were four round-trip
Concorde tickets to Paris.” Gordon was under
investigation for allegedly embezzling from
customer accounts at insurance and financial
planning companies he operated near Albany, New
York. “He was convicted in 1980 of mail fraud,
interstate transportation of a stolen check, and
making a false statement to a bank,” Stone
found. “He served more than two years of a
seven-year sentence in federal prison.”
Gordon, 62, next “made a fortune by
taking a commission for processing sales on a
range of [web] sites from small mainstream
retailers to others like ClubLove,” Stone
revealed. “His payment processing company
continues to have roots in the world of sexual
entertainment. One of the several companies he
owns or operates, Processing Solutions,
facilitates credit card transactions for the web
sites Dial Talk International, according to
current and former employees familiar with the
arrangements. DTI is based on the Caribbean
island of Curaçao and runs, from Los Angeles, a
vast and profitable network of explicit web sites
for the Japanese market.”
“DTI appears to rank in the top 1% of
adult entertainment companies in the world,”
Stone was told by AVN Online publisher M. J.
McMahon, who reports about the adult
entertainment industry.
“CryptoLogic, an early Canadian online
gambling network,” was another of Gordon’s major
clients, Stone reported.
Gordon and former partners were involved
in a messy bankruptcy in 1999. Gordon was paid $2
million as part of the settlement, and retained
his relationship with DTI and DTI founder Wataru
Takahashi, with whom he has been involved in
other ventures.

Paul Irwin

“Richard Gordon has one other man to
thank for helping him land on his feet,” wrote
Stone: “Paul Irwin.”
Irwin, as HSUS president, hired Gordon
in April 2003, two years after Irwin’s original
scheduled retirement, but one year before the
HSUS board elected current HSUS president Wayne
Pacelle to succeed him.
“Tax returns for HSUS show that the
organization paid $881,000 to Mr. Gordon’s new
venture, Exciting New Technologies,” Stone
recounted. “In May 2003, according to a press
release at the time, Gordon hired Irwin’s son
Christopher as director of business development
at Exciting New Technologies. The younger Mr.
Irwin could not be reached for comment. It is
not clear how long he worked there.”
HSUS discontinued dealing with Gordon
shortly before the end of Paul Irwin’s HSUS
presidency, but Paul Irwin again hired Gordon
after becoming president of American Bible
Society in 2006, paying Gordon more than $5
million over the next two years, Stone learned.
“I have absolutely no knowledge of
Richard Gordon’s involvement in pornography,”
Irwin told Stone. “If anyone can provide me
evidence that he is involved in pornography,
then I want you to know he will be out of the
American Bible Society today.”
Two days before Stone’s exposé appeared,
“The American Bible Society and Richard Gordon
have mutually agreed to terminate all existing
business relationships,” the society announced.
“The society added that it was continuing
to investigate Mr. Gordon and his business with
the organization,” wrote Stone.
The American Bible Society placed Paul
Irwin and chief financial officer Richard B.
Stewart Jr. on paid temporary leave three days
after Stone published his findings. On June 13,
2008 American Bible Society board chair Dennis C.
Dickerson annnouned that Irwin’s contract would
not be renewed. The contract was to expire on
June 30, wrote Lilian Kwon of the Christian Post

Montreal SPCA

The Montreal SPCA, $4 million in debt at
Barnoti’s departure, is reportedly struggling to
avoid bankruptcy and trying to find out how it
came to be in financial distress.
The new management team reportedly found
serious neglect of facilities at the Montreal
SPCA shelter
“The shelter lobby still reeks of urine,
but refurbishing the ventilation and air
conditioning has begun,” recounted Max Harrold
of the Montreal Gazette on June 8, 2008. “With
no computerized inventory system, acting
executive director Alanna Devine can’t say
exactly how many animals have come through or
been euthanized. But McGill University has
donated 15 computers, she said. Choosing–and
paying for–shelter management software is the
next step.
“Rescue group volunteers spent two weeks
cleaning a formerly abandoned suite of CSPCA
offices,” Harrold added. “Pigeons had entered
through a broken window, and the place was caked
with droppings, said Maggie Shuter, whose
Animal Adoption Montreal rescue specializes in
purebred cats and dogs.”

“Baghdad Buddies”

SPCA International appears to be doing
business as usual, promoting the “shelter of the
week” program and “Baghdad Buddies,” a program
that has reportedly brought about half a dozen
pets of U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq back to
the U.S.
Both programs are directed by Terri
Crisp, identified as “SPCA International’s
Animal Resource and Rescue Consultant.”
Crisp was disaster relief coordinator for
United Animal Nations from 1991 to 2001. She
formed her own organization, Noah’s Wish, after
controversies surfaced about her work during
Hurricane Floyd and following the terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001.
Reportedly receiving $8.4 million in
donations after Hurricane Katrina in 2005,
Noah’s Wish came under investigation by the
California Attorney General over how the funds
were allocated. Terminated by the Noah’s Wish
board in March 2007, Crisp founded an
organization called Animal Resources later in the
year. She began working with SPCA International
soon afterward.

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