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Woman Intends to Plead Guilty to Bilking Veterans Charity



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

North Haverhill — The former executive director of a Hanover-based nonprofit that assisted military veterans has filed a notice that she intends to plead guilty to several felony charges alleging she stole thousands of dollars from the organization, a court document indicates.

Danielle Goodwin, the co-founder of the now-shuttered Project VetCare, plans to enter her pleas to eight theft by unauthorized taking charges in Grafton Superior Court next month, her attorney, Amy Spencer, said on Tuesday.

“She is accepting responsibility for her actions,” Spencer said. “She is looking forward to the future and is continuing to pursue her doctoral studies.”

There is a negotiated plea agreement in place that calls for two sentences, one with time to serve in prison, Spencer said.

Goodwin would face two separate sentences. The first calls for her to serve 3½ to seven years in prison, while the second sentence of four to eight years would be suspended.

The state plans to recommend suspending 1½ years of the 3½-year minimum to-serve sentence as well, Spencer said. Goodwin also has the ability to petition for early release once she serves two-thirds of her minimum sentence, per state statute.

The plea agreement and sentencing structure has to be approved by a judge.

As a condition of her release, Goodwin wouldn’t be allowed to be an administer or founder of any type of charitable or nonprofit organization for 10 years, Spencer said, but she could work as a volunteer or a member.

Assistant Grafton County Attorney John Bell, who is prosecuting the case, said he couldn’t comment until after the case is adjudicated.

Spencer said the amount of restitution to be paid is “consistent” with the amount in a pending civil matter.

Goodwin was arrested last August and indicted the following month on a charge that alleges she took “unauthorized control” of more than $24,600 from the organization. Seven other felony charges alleging a theft of funds followed soon after.

Her arrest came as a report was issued by the Charitable Trust Unit of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, which found Goodwin and others appropriated the nonprofit’s money for their personal use.

Among her purchases, Goodwin diverted money from Project VetCare to pay for a vacation on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, a new heating system for her Hanover home and “stipend payments” to family members, the state’s investigation found. Goodwin’s husband, Gavin Goodwin, who was a former Project VetCare director, also received a roughly $47,000 loan from Project VetCare funds, according to a report from the state Attorney General’s Office.

When the Charitable Trust Unit learned about a potential misuse of funds, it investigated and later filed a civil lawsuit in 2016 asking a judge to remove Goodwin and other officers and place the organization with a receiver.

The state has a lien on the Goodwin home on Kingsford Road and it is still for sale, Assistant Attorney General Thomas J. Donovan said on Tuesday.

Once the home sells, money from the sale — Danielle Goodwin is obligated to pay back at least $90,000 — as well as proceeds generated through the sale of Project VetCare’s properties and other reclaimed funds will go to help veterans.

Attorney Tim McLaughlin, who represents Goodwin in the civil suit, said he couldn’t comment until he had a chance to speak with his client.

In August 2017, the home was listed for $899,000. On Tuesday, real estate websites had it listed for $699,000.

In April, Goodwin’s son, Alexander Donahue, and daughter-in-law, Sarah Healy Donahue, both of North Carolina, were charged with receiving stolen property and theft. Their cases are still pending in Grafton Superior Court.

Gavin Goodwin has agreed to pay back $30,000 of the loan, the attorney general’s report said. The state also reached settlements with staff member Mindy Bergman, board member Dana Pirovane and Project VetCare co-founder Robert Chambers.

Goodwin has her formal plea and sentencing hearing scheduled for Aug. 27 in the North Haverhill courthouse.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

 Correction

Danielle Goodwin, the co-founder of Project VetCare, is scheduled to plead guilty next month to charges she stole money from the now-shuttered Hanover nonprofit. An earlier headline to this story incorrectly described the status of the plea agreement.