A Cape Cod charity, that claims to raise money for families dealing with tragedies, is now under investigation by local and state authorities.
Former workers say the president of Touched by Angels kept money intended for families for herself, but the woman at the center of the scandal says that's just not true. The head of the charity insists she hasn’t profited, and says she’s the real victim.
’I just can't believe others would want to hurt another human being after all I've done for them,’ Touched by Angels president Gina Clark told FOX Undercover’s Mike Beaudet in an exclusive interview. ’I just got a tattoo. Because the song I listen to in my car everyday is I will survive. And it has gotten me through a lot.’
Clark is so distraught because she's accused of taking money from families that she swears she helped. Since 2007, her organization has held more than a dozen benefits to raise money for middle-income families dealing with tragedies. Some of those families, though, are now speaking out against her.
’I don't blame them, but I am very hurt,’ she said.
Touched by Angels has been the talk of Cape Cod ever since a highly critical video aired on public access television last month. The video was produced by a man who used to work with the organization, but left after he says he realized the charity was cheating the people it was supposed to be helping.
Other former workers and families who benefited from the charity are also speaking out against Touched by Angels and Clark.
’I think she's a con. I think she's a very, very hurtful person,’ said Steve Ledwell, who used to work for Touched by Angels.
Ledwell produced the documentary that’s highly critical of Clark and Touched by Angels. In the documentary, another former Touched by Angels worker, Chris Niland, talks about how he raised money for the charity at tables set up at grocery stores on Cape Cod.
’I was bringing in between six, seven hundred, sometimes eight hundred dollars a day. Seven days a week,’ Niland said in the video. ’And 80 percent of this money was going to go to the family. And then I started to figure out that in fact 80 percent wasn't going to the family.’
In an interview, FOX Undercover asked Ledwell, ’Do you think people donating thought that money was going to the families?’
’Absolutely,’ he answered. ’When you have an 8x10 glossy color picture next to a donation pail and a story why these people need your donation, that to me is to benefit that family.’Clark says the money collected at the grocery stores was never intended for the families.
’It all went into Touched by Angels. And I have records from my accountant that every deposit he brought in went into Touched by Angels,’ she said.
Clark was unable to show us those records because she says she has been unable to reach her accountant. But records filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General show the charity operated at a loss in 2008.
’Do you think that was misleading to the public?’ FOX Undercover’s Beaudet asked her.
’No, I do not,’ she replied. ’There was a big sign on the table. The Angel reps would tell them.this money that you donate helps us with our overhead costs.’
Clark's former fundraisers aren't the only ones unhappy with her.
In the video, four families who turned to Touched by Angels for help criticized Clark for failing to come through for them. One of those family members was Jeff Brown, whose son Steven died.
’We were just looking for any type of assistance we could get with the burial arrangements,’ Brown said in the documentary. ’We ended up with about $200 dollars, I think, went to us to pay an oil bill. For an $11,000 dollar funeral.’
FOX Undercover’s Beaudet asked Clark about the Browns.
’Did the family only get a couple of hundred bucks because you pocketed the rest?’ he asked.
’Absolutely not. And I mean that from my heart. I've never taken a dime,’ she said.
Clark points to her paperwork which shows only $759 was raised. After subtracting nearly $500 for food and decorations, the Brown family was left with $213 dollars. Clark says Touched by Angels only got $53.
’It wasn't a good benefit. But I would be thankful for whatever someone did for me and all I had to do was show up at a benefit. And he said he was very happy,’ she said.
Clark's critics are also suspicious of her lifestyle. She lives in a Marston Mills home purchased in 2006 for $710,000, and drives a Mercedes Benz SUV. Her husband is a firefighter who has a $53,203 annual salary.
But Clark says she doesn't even pay herself a salary.
’You have fancy cars, you have a big beautiful home. How do you afford it?,’ FOX Undercover’s Beaudet asked.
’You know what. I'm going to say just this. I had all this. Way before Touched by Angels. And I'm going to leave it like that,’ Clark replied.
Before Touched by Angels, Clark also had a legal problem. In a civil lawsuit filed in 2006, the parents of one of her friends, Kassey Cazeault, accused Clark and Cazeault of bilking them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
’That had nothing to do with me. Absolutely nothing to do with me,’ she said.
’You're listed in the document though,’ FOX Undercover’s Beaudet asked.
’But it had nothing to do with me,’ Clark replied.
Her friend Cazeault said, ’It has nothing to do with Gina Clark.’
Beaudet asked, ’What happened to all that money?’ Cazeault replied, ’That money was my personal life. That has nothing to do with Gina or Touched by Angels.’
The case was later dismissed and Clark showed FOX Undercover a document signed by the people who sued her indicating she had nothing to do with the missing money.
Clark is convinced Ledwell is behind all the current controversy, stressing he has a lengthy criminal record, which includes convictions for indecent assault and battery and burglary.
Clark also says Ledwell threatened to take her down last year after the IRS inquired about Ledwell’s using a wrong social security number.
’He said, ’I'm going to tell you something right now. If you do not call the IRS and tell that you made a mistake with my social security number, I will make your life so miserable,’’ Clark said.Ledwell does admit he gave Clark the wrong social security number.
Asked, ’Did you threaten to expose everything if she didn't lie to the IRS for you?’ Ledwell replied, ’Oh no. No.’
Clark maintains she’s been the victim of vicious attacks and bullying.
Asked about those accusations, Ledwell said, ’No. No. I'm calling her on it.’
FOX Undercover has learned that Barnstable police recently sent the results of its investigation of Touched by Angels to the Cape and Islands District Attorney, and that now the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office is on the case, too.
The Attorney General’s office would not confirm its investigating, but a spokesperson did say the office has received some complaints about Touched by Angels and is reviewing them.
Three former Touched by Angels workers have gone to court to try and get criminal charges levied against Clark, but two of those applications for criminal complaints were dismissed by a judge Thursday morning in Barnstable District Court.