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Noah's Wish Settles Katrina Allegations

In the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, many nonprofit groups kicked off fundraising campaigns on behalf of victims. I truly believe the majority were well intentioned. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Attorney General of California investigated Noah’s Wish for its alleged misallotment of Katrina funds. The humane organization raised $8 million as part of its Katrina animal victim campaign. That's quite a bit of money; I imagine such a charitable windfall proved more than the nonprofit could handle.

According to a Mutual Settlement Agreement and Release signed last month by California’s Deputy Attorney General, former Noah’s Wish founder and director Terri Crisp, and current Noah’s Wish Board Chair Amy Maher, “The Investigation examined the following allegations: (1) that contributions made to Noah’s Wish for the purpose of rescuing and caring for the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina were not used for this specific purpose; (2) that Noah’s Wish did not properly classify and account for the contributions received following Hurricane Katrina; (3) that Noah’s Wish lacked adequate fiscal controls over its funds; and (4) that problems existed regarding board governance. Noah’s Wish disputes each and every allegation.”

As part of the settlement, “Noah’s Wish agrees that it will not appoint Terri Crisp to the Board of Directors nor will it employ her in any manner.” Also, “Terri Crisp agrees that she will not serve as an officer, director or trustee, or in any position having the duties or responsibilities of an officer, director, or trustee, with any nonprofit organization for a period of five (5) years from the execution of this Settlement Agreement.”

Whether she was guilty of the aforementioned allegations or not, you’d think that Crisp would play it safe and keep her distance from disaster relief or nonprofit groups for awhile. Instead, per a former Noah’s Wish volunteer, Crisp has quickly founded another nonprofit, Animal Resources. Like Noah’s Wish, her new organization focuses on rescuing and caring for animals from disaster areas. I am an admittedly cynical person, so all I can muster is a sincere hope that both organizations make good use of their second chances, for the sake of the animals and the donors who want to help them.


Julia Kamysz Lane

August 10, 2007 in Current Affairs, Donations , Legislation, Volunteer | Permalink


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SPCA International proves again they do it their way - the WRONG way. This organization is poorly run by inexperienced personnel and literally stealing funds from other organizations who can do the job better. Pierre Barnoti, the President of the Board of Directors of SPCA International has been in lots of trouble in Canada and the 'handler' of these imported animals is none other than Terri Crisp of Somerset, California who has been investigated by the California Attorney General for mis-use of funds from her last job and is currently being investigated by the IRS. READ ON...

> Subject: Rabid Dog Imported from Iraq Along with Others Distributed to
> 16 States, Newark Liberty Airport
> Date: 6/24/2008; 17:00:49
> Message#: 100849-6-24- 2008-PHAD
> Contact Info: Colin T. Campbell, Infectious and Zoonotic Disease Progam
> Phone: 609-588-3121; Email: colin.campbell@ doh.state. nj.us Faye E.
> Sorhage, Infectious and Zoonotic Disease Program
> Phone: 609-588-3121; Email: faye.sorhage@ doh.state. nj.us
> Attachments: None
> A dog imported on June 5, 2008 from Iraq to the Newark Liberty Airport,
> New Jersey (NJ) via a Federal Express jet with 23 other dogs and 2 cats
> was diagnosed with rabies, with onset 3 days following arrival. The
> animals were imported through 'Operation Baghdad Pup,' a project
> coordinated by SPCA International of Washington D.C. The animals were
> housed in an empty warehouse building on the Newark Liberty Airport
> grounds for approximately 5 days before being redistributed by airplane
> to soldiers (or their families) living throughout the U.S. Animals were
> bathed and groomed after arrival and were examined by veterinarians and
> provided preventive care on June 5th and 6th. One of the 2 imported cats
> developed neurologic signs, was euthanized and tested negative for
> rabies at New Jersey Public Health and Environmental Laboratories
> (PHEL). The cat was ill at the time of transport and had a bite wound of
> unknown origin on its' tail.
> 'Crusader', the dog which became rabid, was an 11 month old,
> spaniel/Labrador mix that had been cared for by a soldier for 7-9 months
> in Iraq. There were no known bites or exposure from suspect rabid
> animals to the dog while under the care of the soldier. The dog was
> healthy when departing from Iraq and did not display clinical signs of
> rabies during the initial veterinary examinations upon arrival in NJ. On
> June 8th, volunteers noticed that the dog was wobbly, showed a change in
> personality, and had diarrhea. The dog was admitted to a Bergen County,
> NJ veterinary hospital the following day. On admission to the hospital,
> the dog had a 103.5 temperature and a tense abdomen, vocalized
> strangely, acted confused and was 'snappy'. Laboratory testing was
> negative for parvovirus and distemper virus, and ultrasound, blood
> counts, and serum chemistries were unremarkable. The dog gradually
> became weaker, totally recumbent, and continued to vocalize and show
> agitation, despite being heavily sedated. He was euthanized on June 11,
> 2008.
> Tissue specimens from this dog were received by the New Jersey PHEL on
> June 16,
> 2008 and found positive for rabies on a direct fluorescent antibody
> assay on June 18, 2008. A sample was sent to CDC and was confirmed as
> positive on June 20.
> An investigation by the New Jersey Department Health and Senior Services
> (NJDHSS), with assistance of the Bergen County Health Department, and
> CDC is ongoing to identify persons and animals that may have been
> exposed to this dog during its infectious period of May 28, 2008 to June
> 11, 2008. No bite exposures to humans or the other animals in the
> shipment have been identified, but several individuals (e.g.,
> volunteers, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, groomers) and the
> involved soldier have been identified as potentially exposed to the
> saliva of the animal and have begun rabies post exposure prophylaxis.
> Animals were kept primarily in separate crates, but there are reports
> that they were allowed to interact when they were walked or exercised.
> > On Friday June 20th New Jersey health authorities began notifying public
> health officials in all 16 states receiving the other dogs and cat from
> this shipment of this situation. As of June 23rd, CDC is following up
> with public health officials in all states to confirm that the animals
> have been located according to the records provided by the SPCA. Owners
> of these dogs will be required to present their dog to a licensed
> accredited veterinarian for a rabies vaccine booster and quarantine
> their animal for 6 months in a suitable environment as required by each
> state law.

Posted by: tmm | Jun 27, 2008 4:22:29 PM

Beckerman: We expect Ms Santangelo's costs to be picked up by the RIAA, since (a) the copyright statute permits the Court to shift the attorneys fees to the losing party, (b) these cases were clearly frivolous and brought in bad faith, and (c) it is a matter of public interest that the RIAA be deterred from bringing more such meritless cases.

Posted by: lawyers | May 11, 2008 1:12:47 AM

All of the major animal welfare organizations out there know what Terri Crisp is: a fraud.

The HSUS, ASPCA, EARS, Best Friends -- all of the groups are part of a national coalition and they did not allow Noah's Wish to be part of this group under Crisp's authority. But now that Crisp is gone, Noah's Wish is being embraced by other groups and will be part of this national coalition to save animals. It is sad that Sheri Thompson, formerly of Noah's Wish and UAN has followed Terri to Animal Resources. Terri is getting up there in years, so she won't be at the game much longer, folks. Not to worry. Karma catches up with you.

Posted by: Samantha | Aug 20, 2007 2:51:15 PM

AUGUST 19, 2007

Settlement Requires Animal Charity to Return $4-Million in Katrina Gifts

By Ben Gose

A California animal-rescue charity that raised $8.4-million to care for animals left behind following Hurricane Katrina — and subsequently spent more than a third of the money expanding its own operations — has settled a state investigation by agreeing to turn over the $4-million that remains.

Noah's Wish, a charity in Placerville, Calif., sent employees and volunteers to help rescue animals in Slidell, La., a New Orleans suburb, and raise money to rebuild the city's animal shelter. With shelter officials focusing their efforts on the animals, Noah's Wish hired a public-relations expert to help publicize the shelter's challenges, and Terri Crisp, the charity's founder and former executive director, did several television interviews on behalf of the shelter in the weeks following the disaster. But as the money poured in to Noah's Wish, the charity rapidly expanded its own staff, moved into new offices in California, and bought expensive rescue equipment.

The group, which had just $500 in the bank when the hurricane struck, increased compensation for Ms. Crisp from $6,200 in the fiscal year ending June 2005 to more than $140,000 the following year.

The charity spent nearly $1.5-million on Katrina relief efforts, but the rest of its spending since the hurricane — nearly $3-million — appears to have been used to expand the operations of Noah's Wish, according to the settlement.

Ms. Crisp, who describes herself as a scapegoat, says she would have preferred to see the charity take the case to court.

She believes the donors who sent money after Katrina wanted to support her organization's work wherever it was needed.

"People knew the money would go to help animals in disaster — they didn't care if it was a dog in Louisiana or a dog in Alaska," she says.

Board Training

Under the agreement Noah's Wish worked out with California's attorney general, the charity must turn over to the state $3.8-million by August 17, and an additional $200,000 within a year.

The settlement also requires the charity, which now has just one paid employee, to expand its three-member board (two board members recently resigned) and provide governance training to all board members.

The California attorney general's office oversees charities that operate in the state, and may take legal action to ensure that assets are used for charitable purposes.

The settlement prohibits Ms. Crisp, who was fired by the charity's board in March, from serving as an officer or director of any nonprofit group for five years.

The settlement states that the $4-million turned over to the state will go to organizations that "support and assist the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina."

Damian Anti, assistant director of Slidell Animal Control, says an engineering firm recently estimated the cost of a new animal shelter to be nearly $3-million.

Even though the settlement only guarantees the city of Slidell $1-million, the California attorney general's office has been in contact with Slidell officials and has agreed to provide $3-million to cover the full cost of rebuilding, according to Gareth Lacy, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

"I'm very confident that we can build an outstanding state-of-the-art facility for that," Mr. Anti says. "The community is ecstatic."

Noah's Wish, which Ms. Crisp founded in 2002, rescues animals that are threatened by natural disasters, and shelters them until they can be reunited with their owners. The charity has responded to numerous forest fires and hurricanes in the United States. It also has worked internationally, responding to the December 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka and to flooding in Romania in 2005.

By all accounts, the money flowing in following Katrina virtually overwhelmed the charity, which was struggling financially at the time of the hurricane.

Ms. Crisp says an accountant advised her that any donations that did not specifically state that they were for Katrina relief could go into the charity's general fund.

Noah's Wish, which had been operating out of a trailer on land owned by Ms. Crisp before the hurricane, hired 11 full-time people in the year following Katrina, and rented a suite of offices.

The charity also bought new equipment, including three vehicles and several trailers, some of which were stocked with generators, feeding dishes, and other supplies.

The settlement requires the charity to review its inventory of vehicles to determine whether a valid charitable reason exists for keeping them. If not, proceeds from the sale of the vehicles will go into the fund that benefits Louisiana charities.

Donna Ganguet, the only remaining employee, whose title is executive office manager, referred questions to Amy Maher, who has been president of the group's board of directors since December 2005.

Ms. Maher, who is also a state prosecutor in Illinois, says the rationale behind the spending was to better prepare the organization for the next big disaster.

"We realized how far in over our heads we were with Katrina," Ms. Maher says. "We were trying not to get ourselves in that position again."

Ms. Crisp argues that the $8-million the group raised is more than the city of Slidell needed.

She believes it was logical for the charity to spend some of the money to improve its capacity to respond, and she wanted the case taken to court to clarify how such a situation should be handled.

"If there is a disaster where you bring in a lot of money and it ends up being more than is needed on that particular disaster, what do you do with the money?" she asks. "Do you send it back to them?"

Donors' Wishes

Several volunteers and former employees at Noah's Wish say they believe Ms. Crisp seized on the opportunity to expand the charity's operation, even though it was clear that the vast majority of donors intended for their money to aid animals in Louisiana.

"In the four or five months after Katrina, the money was coming in droves," says Mina Johnson, who was hired as a bookkeeper after the hurricane but no longer works for Noah's Wish. "They basically had no money coming in beforehand, and they had no money coming in after that period. The money was obviously for Katrina."

Ms. Crisp and the board made other questionable decisions, according to volunteers and former employees.

Noah's Wish hired Ms. Crisp's daughter, Jennifer, as communications director, and Jennifer's boyfriend as an information-technology worker. The group also opened a New York office to handle publicity, and staffed it with three employees. That office has since been closed.

Ms. Crisp says the organization hired her daughter immediately after Katrina because all of the charity's employees were in the New Orleans area, and she needed someone she could trust in California to handle the donations that were coming in.

Ms. Crisp blames the organization's board — on which she served — for many of the decisions for which she is now being criticized.

"A lot of this might have unfolded differently if we had had a different board of directors," Ms. Crisp says. "We didn't have the depth of knowledge and experience that we should have had."

"I'm not going to get into a tit for tat with Terri," responds Ms. Maher, the board chair. "We are where we are."

Volunteers Offer Support

Ms. Maher says the charity will stay in business, and that some donors have vowed their continued support. "We're going to watch every penny," she says.

The organization still has a network of volunteers around the country who coordinate efforts to rescue animals during disasters.

In June and July, volunteers traveled to Lake Tahoe and sheltered 118 animals who were threatened by fires in the area.

"We took a hard hit," says Rebecca Oliver, a volunteer coordinator who lives in Grizzly Flats, Calif. "It's refreshing to see that the spirit and the devotion of all the volunteers is still there."

Even though the settlement prohibits Ms. Crisp from serving as an officer, director, or trustee of any nonprofit organization — or handling the duties of such positions — for five years, she is already heavily involved with a new organization, Animal Resources, in Placerville, that has a mission similar to Noah's Wish.

No one at the new charity is being paid, but Ms. Crisp says the plan is for her to eventually assume a paid position in which she would travel to disasters and provide preparedness training.

Ms. Crisp describes the settlement's restrictions on her work as "vague," and says that she is not being reckless in helping to get the new organization off the ground. "The vast knowledge that I have related to managing animals in disasters is desperately needed," she says.

Mr. Lacy, the spokesman for the attorney general's office, says the restrictions on Ms. Crisp are "very clear."

"We're monitoring that situation," he says. "Our goal is to make sure that the terms of the settlement are met, and we will do that."

Copyright © 2007 The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Posted by: Ken | Aug 20, 2007 8:25:42 AM

Whatever happened legally, I am sure the CA AG could have settled this without disrupting the important service that Noah's Wish provides. It is clear the AG thinks the services Noah's Wish provided were not important and did not need to continue.

Training was stopped, animal rescue didn't happen, and all that came of the allegations is that someone was fired.

The CA AG did more harm to animal victims of disaster than whatever T.Crisp did.

Posted by: Will | Aug 18, 2007 11:57:30 PM

KCRA-TV Call 3 Problem Solvers: Charity Makes Settlement With Attorney General Former Director At Center Of Controversy

POSTED: 5:24 pm PDT August 17, 2007

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Noah's Wish, a Sacramento-area charity that rescued hundreds of animals after Hurricane Katrina, turned over $4 million in frozen funds Friday.It's the result of a settlement between the Attorney General, Noah's Wish, and the charity's former director. Allegations swirled around the charity after the disaster, that the money wasn't being used for the animals, as donors expected.

Noah's Wish former director Terri Crisp is at the center of the controversy.

Charlie Crosby, a current Noah's Wish volunteer, said the charity supports the attorney general's settlement agreement.
Under the settlement agreement, the charity agrees to turn over $4 million to the attorney general's office.

As for Crisp, she agrees not to serve as a director, board member or trustee with any charity for five years. But some alleged the ink isn't even dry on the settlement agreement and Crisp may be violating it.

They said she's running a new animal rescue group called Animal Resources that is based in Placerville, not far from her home.

Crosby said other volunteers know that she is the leader of that organization. Crisp declined the Call 3 Problem Solvers' request for an on-camera interview. However, she said by phone that Noah's Wish former employees are trying to discredit her.
About Noah's Wish, she said, "Were we never trying to do something intentionally wrong, absolutely not."
On the settlement, she said, "There was more attention put on me, and it should have been evenly distributed among the entire board."
As for Animal Resources, Crisp said she's helping out but is not part of the decision making and has no voting rights.
While Crisp and Noah's Wish have parted ways, both plan to keep working tirelessly for animals in disasters.
The attorney general's office said it's familiar with concerns about Crisp and Animal Resources and is monitoring the situation.
If you have a problem and you think officials are moving too slowly to correct it, contact the Call 3 Problem Solvers at 916-447-2255 or click here to fill out our online form.
Copyright 2007 by KCRA.com. All rights reserved.


Posted by: Tim | Aug 18, 2007 7:59:45 AM

Terri Crisp is not a woman of integrity. She is 100% behind Animal Resouces regardless of the fact that her name is not on the web or on the 501c3 papers. Her daughter Jennifer Mc Kim (formerly on staff at Noah's Wish with her Mom) and Sheri Thompson (formerly of Noah's Wish) are working with Crisp at Animal Resources.
There are SO MANY groups to support who are founded in integrity. DO not support Animal Resouces. HSUS, the ASPCA, United Animal Nations -- find another group to give your money to.

Posted by: Sammy | Aug 10, 2007 4:58:16 PM

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