Armed Forces Foundation

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Armed Forces Foundation
Motto Serving those who Serve
Formation 2001
75-3070368
Legal status Non-Profit registered 501c(3) Foundation
Focus United States Armed Forces & Mental health
Headquarters 16 N. Carolina Ave, SE Washington, DC, United States 20003[1]
Region served
United States
Leader Brian Cooke
Main organ
Board of Directors
Website armedforcesfoundation.org

The Armed Forces Foundation was an American non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that began operations in 2002 by Jim Gorab, a former Navy engineer, to promote the morale, welfare and quality of life of the military community with a special emphasis on military families.[2] However, due to issues related to a recent audit, the operations of the Armed Forces Foundation ceased on October 15, 2016.[3]

Armed Forces Foundation ceases operation[edit]

On October 15, 2016, the Armed Forces Foundation made an announcement that they were ceasing operations after performing an audit of operations as a result of Patricia Driscoll’s resignation on June 14, 2015 and the subsequent indictment of the former President on federal charges stemming from a scheme in which she allegedly stole from the non-profit charity, defrauded donors, and lied to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the public about her salary and benefits.[3][4]

In the statement “As a result of this exercise, and careful considerations, AFF has decided to cease our programs and fundraising operations and to transfer existing resources to other highly-impactful organizations in this military service space. The reality is that there are more than 40,000 non-profit organizations dedicated to serving military members and their families and there is considerable overlap among those organizations. We believe by combining our resources with similar organizations, we can ultimately better serve the military community.

As such, AFF will continue its legacy of protecting and promoting the physical, mental and emotional wellness of military service members, veterans, and their families by allocating financial resources to four high-quality, high-performing non-profit organizations in the military/veterans space: Hire Our Heroes,[5] Team Rubicon,[6] The Mission Continues,[7] and the Yellow Ribbon Fund.[8]"[3]

Programs[edit]

Congressman C.W Bill Young of Florida with his wife Beverly speak at the 2008 Armed Forces Foundation's Congressional Gala.

The Honorable C.W Bill Young Financial Assistance Fund, named after former Congressman Bill Young, once provided direct financial assistance to service members and their families facing financial hardship through injury and other service related situations.[9]

The Armed Forces Foundation, in partnership with Southwest Airlines, once paid for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team's travel expenses during the season.[10] The team consists of 29 veterans and active duty soldiers with a variety of injuries.[11]

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings with a child during the Armed Forces Foundation's Operation Caring Classroom

Operation Caring Classroom was the foundation's annual Veterans Day education initiative to help increase understanding and support among children for military families across the United States.[12]

Started in 2009, the NASCAR Troops to the Track program (T2T), presented by Bank of America in partnership with the Armed Forces Foundation, is a year-round recreational group therapy program that honors service men and women, veterans, and military families at races throughout the country by taking them to races and behind-the-scenes events.[13]

Starting in 2012, Kurt Busch and the Armed Forces Foundation dedicated races in memory or in honor service members and veterans.[14] On November 7, 2014 the program was suspended due to allegations of assault by Busch against Patricia Driscoll, who at the time was the President of the AFF and his former girlfriend.[15] On March 5, 2015, it was announced by the Delaware District Attorney that no criminal charges would be filed against Busch, citing a lack of evidence.[16]

Controversies[edit]

Misappropriation of funds allegations[edit]

Patricia Driscoll served as President of the Armed Forces Foundation from 2003 to 2015.[17]

According the ESPN's OTL, Patricia Driscoll, the former girlfriend of NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, resigned as executive director of the Armed Forces Foundation on June 14, 2015 in the wake of allegations that she mishandled foundation money, according to ESPN’s Outside the Lines [18] and Kickin' The Tires [19]

Indictment[edit]

On September 20, 2016, United States Attorney Channing D. Phillips District of Columbia released the following statement and indictment of Patricia Driscoll, the former President of the AFF[4]

“The former executive director of the Armed Forces Foundation was indicted today on federal charges stemming from a scheme in which she allegedly stole from the non-profit charity, defrauded donors, and lied to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the public about her salary and benefits.

The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia, Assistant Director Paul M. Abbate in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of the Washington Field Office of the IRS-Criminal Investigation.

The case was brought after articles by ESPN and Kickin' the Tires [20]

Patricia Pauline Driscoll, 38, of Ellicott City, Maryland, will be arraigned at a later date in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She was named in an indictment charging her with two counts each of wire fraud, mail fraud and tax evasion and one count of attempts to interfere with administration of Internal Revenue laws, all federal offenses. She also was charged with first-degree fraud, a District of Columbia offense. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds that can be traced to the alleged fraud scheme.

According to the indictment, until July 2015, Driscoll was the executive director of the Armed Forces Foundation, a tax-exempt non-profit charity based in Washington, D.C. The foundation’s stated mission is to protect and promote the physical, mental and emotional wellness of military service members, veterans and their families.

While Driscoll was the executive director, in its promotions and requests for money, the Armed Forces Foundation claimed that 94 - 96 percent of all donations went directly to military members and their families through the charity’s programs. As a “highly compensated individual,” Driscoll’s salary and benefits were required to be disclosed on forms (Form 990) to be filed each year with the IRS. These publicly available documents are often used by charity watch groups and donors to judge worthiness of the charity and by the IRS to determine whether the organization was operating with IRS law and regulations.

The indictment alleges that Driscoll caused false reports to be filed on the Form 990s in a number of ways. She is accused, for example, of failing to include the fact that she received commissions from fundraising, the amounts of commissions that she received from fundraising and the other benefits that she received. Driscoll also is accused of falsely categorizing and causing others to falsely categorize expenses in the Armed Forces Foundation’s books and records as being for the benefit of the veterans, troops and their families, when, in fact, they were for her own private benefit. Driscoll also is accused of concealing from the foundation’s accountants the money she took from the charity, such as rent that was paid for the use of office space in a building that she co-owned. Additionally, she is accused of falsely reporting and causing others to falsely report the amount of donations received by the foundation on Form 990s, by inflating the amounts of donations, incorrectly listing the types of donations and including donors who did not, in fact, actually donate. The indictment further alleges that Driscoll sent false and fraudulent Form 990s to members of the foundation’s Board of Directors and to the IRS and caused to be published Form 990s, containing false and fraudulent information, on the foundation’s website, knowing that they would be available and viewed by charity watch groups, potential donors and others.

The indictment also alleges that Driscoll took the foundation’s money for her own personal use and to pay her for-profit business expenses. Finally, the indictment charges tax evasion for tax years 2012 and 2013.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Phillips, Assistant Director in Charge Abbate and Special Agent in Charge Jankowski commended the work performed by Special Agents from the FBI and the IRS. They also acknowledged the efforts of those working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including former Paralegal Specialist Corinne Kleinman; Paralegal Specialist Kaitlyn Kruger; Information Technology Specialist Leif Hickling; Litigation Technology Supervisor Josh Ellen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Lucas, of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. Finally, they expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who is prosecuting the case.” [4]

Kickin' the Tires, the NASCAR-related news site, which is referenced in the ESPN article, published an article after sitting through Driscoll's initial appearance on the charges. As she left the courthouse, she used her attorneys to shield herself from photos and refused comment. [21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, Form 990" (PDF). goodwill.org. Armed Forces Foundation. 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  2. ^ http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2004-05-05/pdf/CREC-2004-05-05.pdf
  3. ^ a b c https://armedforcesfoundation.org/
  4. ^ a b c https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/894086/download
  5. ^ "Hire Our Heroes - Vets Connecting Vets with New Careers...". 
  6. ^ "Team Rubicon - Disaster Response Veterans Service Organization". 
  7. ^ "Mission Continues - Reporting for Duty in Your Community". 
  8. ^ Studio, Sitebox Group Marketing & Graphic. "Yellow Ribbon Fund - Welcoming Injured Service Members". 
  9. ^ "Rep. Issa Statement on the Passing of Rep. Bill Young". house.gov. 
  10. ^ Writer, Beth QuimbyStaff (10 August 2014). "Wounded but not weak, amputee veterans win a softball fundraiser - Portland Press Herald". 
  11. ^ "Wounded Warriors play the way they fought -- hard". woundedwarrioramputeesoftballteam.org. 22 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "8th Annual Operation Caring Classroom Begins November 11th". Downeast News. 
  13. ^ "Troops to the Track celebrates fifth anniversary". nascar.com. 
  14. ^ Kurt Busch Talks about the AFF Race Dedication Program on NASCAR on FOX. YouTube. 17 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Fox Sports. "Kurt Busch was investigated by the Dover Police for alleged domestic violence.". FOX Sports. 
  16. ^ Jill Martin, CNN (5 March 2015). "NASCAR's Busch won't face charges". CNN. 
  17. ^ "NASCAR driver Kurt Busch's ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll resigns as leader of Armed Forces Foundation". ESPN.com. 
  18. ^ "Kurt Busch's ex-girlfriend out as charity leader". 
  19. ^ "He said, she said – NASCAR driver's attorney proclaims client's innocence". 10 January 2015. 
  20. ^ "Tax document shows AFF's ex-leader accused of pilfering funds for personal use". 9 March 2016. 
  21. ^ "Patricia Driscoll Pleads 'Not Guilty' on All Counts of Federal Indictment". 22 September 2016. 

External links[edit]