Cape Cod charity probe widens - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Cape Cod charity probe widens


The Massachusetts Attorney General's office is escalating its probe of Gina Clark and her charity, Touched By Angels, as people who believe they were ripped off continue to come forward.

Investigators are now interviewing families who turned to the Cape Cod charity for help but who now say the money intended for them ended up in Clark's pockets. The charity was supposed to help families in need after a loved one became gravely ill or died.

FOX Undercover, which first reported the controversy over Touched by Angels, has also learned that investigators have subpoenaed the charity’s PayPal records, which could shed light on exactly how much money was given to Touched by Angels.

Those moves come after the AG's office last month ordered the charity to stop raising money.

In April, Clark spoke exclusively to FOX Undercover and denied stealing from families.

"Absolutely not," Clark said at the time. "I have put money into Touched by Angels."

Clark had an answer for everything when she spoke with FOX Undercover " almost everything.

"You drive fancy cars. You have a big beautiful home. How do you afford it?" asked FOX Undercover's Mike Beaudet.

"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 said.

Now, as investigators from the Attorney General's office intensify their probe of Clark and her charity, there's silence from Clark. She stopped returning FOX Undercover's calls. She also cleared out her Barnstable office after a protest on the Cape by families who had dealings with the charity.

Clark may be done talking to FOX Undercover, but the people who call themselves her victims still have plenty to say.

"I think she's trash. I think that she has lied and I think that maybe she' has lied so much that she's convinced herself," said Sarah Blackington, who together with her husband Chris turned to Touched By Angels for financial help in 2008 after hearing about the charity through their church.

Their daughter was born with a rare form of spina bifida and requires frequent trips to doctors and hospitalizations, forcing the couple to take time off from work and putting them in a serious financial bind.

Touched By Angels raised money for the family and held a benefit. Eighty percent of the proceeds, minuses expenses, was supposed to go to the Blackingtons. They ended up with about $1,400, but they believe the charity collected much more than that.

"We had people from our companies donate online. We had people send in checks to their office, plus all of these containers that were out all across the town where most people know us. Know our family, know my daughter," said Blackington.

FOX Undercover asked Clark earlier this year about the Blackington's fundraiser.

"I think it has a lot to do with the economy. I mean we were in a bad economy and we still are," she said.

As for the donation tables set up at malls and supermarkets, Clark says that money was never intended for any of the families, and denies the set-up was misleading.

"Do you think the public realized the money wasn't going to the families?" FOX Undercover's Beaudet asked.

"Yes. 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 said.

Chris Blackington remembers seeing a donation table at the mall, and says Clark and her charity deceived the public.

"They had a huge fishbowl in the middle with dollar bills and fives in there. Just a big sign about her story," he said.

"Do you think the people donating at the mall thought that money was going to your family?" FOX Undercover's Beaudet asked.

"Oh absolutely. The bowl was in front of a huge picture of my daughter," Blackington said.

Dawn Hand, a former vice president of Touched By Angels, says Clark is not to be trusted.

"She has an answer for everything. And it's all lies," she said.

Hand says she questioned Clark about charity bank statements that showed almost $36,000 in deposits at time a time when four families received less than $5,000 total.

"Every time I asked her she had an answer. Oh that's my husband's money. He works so hard. You know he's putting all of his, putting all of our personal money into the account so we can grow the account," Hand said.

Attorney General Martha Coakley says her office's investigation will attempt to answer many questions.

"Certain of their fundraising techniques are under investigation by our office," she said. "How much percentage the charitable corporation is going to keep. How the fundraising's going to be done, what promises are made are important in any investigation."

Investigators may also want to take a look at old pictures that recently surfaced showing Clark selling raffle tickets as a fundraiser even though she admits she never pulled permits to sell them, as required by law. Once again, Clark had an explanation.

"It wasn't a raffle. It was an Angel ticket. If we were doing raffles, we would have needed a permit," she said.

But that explanation doesn't square with the picture which clearly shows she's selling raffle tickets.

In April, FOX Undercover asked Clark, "Are you worried the Attorney General's investigation could lead to criminal charges against you?"

"Never," Clark replied. "Never. Never."

"There's nothing that anyone could get me for because I've done nothing wrong but poured my whole heart and soul in here," she said.

Clark will be in court next month for a trial on criminal charges unrelated to the Attorney General's investigation: Hand says Clark threatened to kill her on her last day of work.

We did reach out to Clark's attorney, who confirms to us that Touched By Angels is officially out of business and that paperwork will be filed with the state to dissolve the charity.

Attorney Seth Roman says Clark is cooperating with the Attorney General's office and will soon be turning over bank statements. He adds he's confident the investigation will find Clark did nothing wrong.


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