|Zip can hardly believe his ears|
For several months, the State of NJ's Consumer Affairs Department of Charity Fraud has been meticulously scouring hundreds of documents (the paypal transactions alone numbered over 2000) released to them by the principles involved (usually after an unpleasant encounter with a subpoena, but sometimes voluntarily) doing what is known in the parlance as a "Follow the Money" survey of the facts surrounding the grand horse rescue effort that took form on Facebook under the fine hands of Sharon Catalano-Crumb, the NJ Horse Angels, the Camelot Horse Angels, and various other combinations and permutations of those names. What I have on my desk right now is about 40 pounds of paper representing the public record of that investigation.
In summary, this woman and her cohort--her live-in boyfriend, her imprisoned felon son, that son's childhood buddy currently on probation, and the cadre of rabid fans she gathered around her to protect her from scrutiny--launched a campaign in September of '09 which raised "at least $145,132.08 purportedly to rescue horses from slaughter between September 2009 and September 2010" [p 2 of 28 of 12 3 10 Filed Verified Complaint against SHARON CATALANO-CRUMB, individually and as a trustee of NJ Horse Angels a/k/a njhorseangelsrescue.org a/k/a NJ Horse Angels Rescue a/k/a NJ Killpen Horses ... Horse Angels of Facebook a/k/a Camelot Auction Horse Angels a/k/a The Forgotten Angels, FRANK WIKOFF, individually and as a trustee of NJ Horse Angels a/k/a njhorseangelsrescue.org a/k/a NJ Horse Angels Rescue a/k/a NJ Killpen Horses....Horse Angels of Facebook a/k/a Camelot Auctoin Horse Angels a/k/a The Forgotten Angels, NJ HORSE ANGELS, NJHORSEANGELSRESCUE.ORG, NJ KILLPEN HORSES....HORSE ANGELS OF FACEBOOK, CAMELOT AUCTION HORSE ANGELS, THE FORGOTTEN ANGELS a New Jersey non-profit organization, defendants].
That's a lot of cash. It's a lot of coffee money. It's a lot of Oh, the Poor Baybeez! And it's a lot of scam because though some of the donations did, indeed, go to the intended purpose (assumed by the State because evidence to the contrary has not yet been uncovered), there is documentation to show that by shifting cash through two different paypal accounts and in and out of personal checking and savings accounts, some $60K went for such intriguing "rescue costs" as charitable contributions to casinos in Atlantic City, an aluminum wheelchair for a dog and an electric one for Frank Wikoff, a TrySensa.com weight loss program, two (guess that's one for each hand--balance is critical in bling) rings for Wikoff, phone cards for Christopher Crumb (guess he needed to call his mom from prison more often), heating oil, rent, and on and on and on. Another $9000 is MIA.
Now, there has been a lot said on all sides of this case over the months since the fraud was uncovered. I know there are still hangers-on who believe that their Fearless Leader only spent a few dollars on herself and that was a simple error in judgment. The other charities that funneled donations through the Working4them paypal account are, I would imagine, a little sheepish about now, particularly the ones that ranted at length recently about the donor being responsible for vetting out the charities before sending money while at the same time listing the Horse Angels as a chosen and supported friend. Believe what you will. A pizza delivery paid for out of the personal account that the paypal funds were funneling to prior to the opening of the Horse Angels' business account may have been an error in judgment. It's awfully hard to just write off the rest of the expenditures with an "Oops! My bad..." defense.
I would dearly love to share here all the gory details, but the .pdf files I have are view-only, so cut-and-paste is out and I'm not enough of a Horse Angels fan to retype 60 pages of court documents. The paperwork is available to the public, and I urge anyone who's interested to call the NJAG's Press Office at 973-504-6327. Please do NOT call the attorneys involved. They are busy people with bigger problems than this one on their plates and, thanks to the phone/email/snail mail campaign launched a few weeks ago at the behest of someone who knew what chaos it would cause, those busy people are short-tempered these days on this subject.
In the end, the big question may never be answered...at least not by this investigation. Where are the horses? Only about 17 were actually located. Hundreds were "bailed" (I still hate that misuse...they're bought and sold, not "bailed" as if they were in prison), but the trails fade out somewhere outside the DAG's jurisdiction. Of course there's already some awareness that this group bought and gifted horses to themselves and their intimates. There is a record of a few of those is you're willing to scour whatever posts on Facebook weren't deleted. More poignant than the rehoming question, though, is the series of statements in the court document that reveal that money was raised for veterinary care for sick horses, and that Ms. Crumb refused to allow the horses to be treated. "Refused". That's the word in the document. To wit [p 11 of 28]:
71. In addition, on at least one occasion, Crumb and the NJ Horse Angels specifically solicited and raised funds for veterinary care for rescued horses.
72. On at least one occasion, Crumb and NJ Horse Angels refused to pay for veterinary care, despite having solicited and raised funds for veterinary care, purportedly because the NJ Horse Angels had no funds available to pay for veterinary care.
The papers read like a Who's Who in the Camelot rescue biz. As I type, I'm hearing that the media have already got the story. Google it. Try and of the names above. You'll be enlightened, I guarantee. Lehigh Valley Live online has the full report. ABC News has contacted the Press Office. Others will follow. This is one pony tale that shouldn't be ignored.