Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Who Worked For The Russell Foundation?

Some of the subjects of an investigation into the misspent funds of the Russell Foundation believe the news media and the blogs have been unfair in their reporting of the bankrupt foundation. WRTV's Jack Rinehart broke the story first on the scandal surrounding the foundation almost two weeks ago. He reported that a grand jury investigation was being conducted to learn how as much as $1.5 million in funds may have been misspent by key persons involved in the foundation. Rinehart reported:

According to the bankruptcy declaration obtained by 6News Friday, the foundation had racked up more than $2.5 million worth of debt.

Records show the foundation's financial officers signed off on credit card bills of $106,000, including $36,000 for office rugs.

The foundation also owned 17 vehicles, including a $50,000 Cadillac Escalade, and maintained offices in a southeast side business park on lakefront property.

Authorities are also investigating missing funds that could total as much as $1.5 million, according to court records, Rinehart reported.

Rinehart's report, quoting Russell Foundation President Bishop Michael Russell, said Russell himself had initiated the bankruptcy filing and the reporting of the alleged missing funds to the prosecutor's office. "The Russell Foundation and Bishop Michael Russell welcome the investigation by authorities into the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Foundation bank accounts during 2006 and 2007," the statement from Russell's attorney read. "The Foundation initiated the request that this matter be fully investigated, and will continue to provide full cooperation with the investigators assigned to the case." Rinehart's report indicated that search warrants had been executed on City-County Councilor Paul Bateman and Manuel Gonzalez by the grand jury. In a later report by the Star's Jon Murray, Bateman claimed he had been set up as a scapegoat and had done nothing wrong. Bateman appeared to point the finger at Russell. "The bottom line is the guy used Jesus Christ to pull us all in," Bateman said. "In the end, it was all a lie."

Although the bankruptcy filing lists Russell as the President of the foundation, a telephone directory on the foundation's website omits his name. The phone directory, however, contains a staggering 26 names of persons holding positions with the foundation and identified as having a telephone extension at the foundation's headquarters at 4455 Southport Crossing Way in Indianapolis, which is now closed. That list includes Bateman and Gonazales, who held key positions with the organization, but both claimed to work for the foundation only as volunteers. You can bet most of the 26 people listed had no clue what was going on with the spending and wish their names never appeared on the foundation's website. With all of the important titles people were assigned, it's hard to understand why there wasn't at least one person who provided a check and balance role in the foundation's spending to avoid the $2.5 million bankruptcy the organization now faces. If Bateman and Gonzalez were just volunteers, then who was actually employed by the foundation and had responsibility for its day-to-day operations? The names and titles of the persons listed on the foundation's telephone directory, include the following:

Patricia Anderson, Director of Funding Disbursement Compliance
Paul Bateman, Chief Corporate Officer
Darryl Borders, Corporate Financial Officer
Heather Bupp, Secretary/Receptionist
Patricia DeWalt, Director of Accounting
A.C. Ellis, Chief Structural Engineer
Janice Focht, Executive Secretary
Erika Fowler, Executive Secretary
Ron Franklin, Chief Corporate Director
Manuel Gonzalez, Chief Financial Advisor
Jennifer Greene, Office Manager
Dr. James Hill, Chief Grant Manager
Kelvin Jarrett, Director of Program Management
Elaine Johnson, Director of Human Resources
Dr. Kevin Jones, Chief Administrative Officer
Dr. Gloria King, Chief of Latino Affairs
Velveeta Knox, Chief Operations Officer
Dr. Roger Knutson, Chief of Technological Research
Kaiser Lowe, Corporate Counsel
Dr. Randall Sheppard, Director of Church Support Grants
Kenneth Torrance, Director of Cost Reimbursement & RF Program Grants
Dr. Elaine Walters, Chief Corporate Liaison
Monica Webster-Lowe, Corporate Counsel
Carline Wilkes, Accounting Manager
Andrea Womack, Director of Human/Social Service Grants
Catherine Zakrajsek


DMC said...

No. Her. Name. Is. Not. Velveeta!

artfuggins said...

It is so easy to make fun of and humiliate someone. Why do we do it? I know Velveeta and she is a very warm, caring person who does not need to be belittled because of what her mother named her. Shame on you, dmc!

Jon Easter said...

I'm assuming that's a different Randall Sheppard than the Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Also, is that Ron Franklin, former City-County Councillor?

guy77money said...

Great post Gary following the trail, ever thought of being a investigative reporter! Opps the Star couldn't afford you. ;) Why are they always doing bad stuff on the south (my side of town) side of town.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Jon, The spelling of the name is different and the title "Dr." should just about answer that question for you. Yes, it's the same Ron.

RhaDigga said...

If there is anyone who would be able to do a phone or face to face interview with insight on Michael Russell and Florence Alexander it would be appreciated.
Thanks for your time
Rhasha- Columbus Dispatch

Unknown said...

I am searching for my Father and he had a daughter named Velveeta. Does any one know if this Velveeta knox and her Dad's name is Oddis Knox from Gary, IN? I can be reached at tlmthree@yahoo.com. Thanks.