Palmer woman charged with misuse of over $100,000 in charitable donations

Crime

PALMER, Mass. (WWLP) – A Palmer woman is being accused of using more than $100,000 meant for a pet rescue for her personal expenses.

Attorney General Maura Healey filed a lawsuit, alleging Dawn Cardinal, Founder, and President of Destiny’s Road Animal Rescue, for misappropriated charitable funds. The AG’s complaint alleges Cardinal misused more than $110,000 from the animal rescue’s bank and PayPal accounts for salon services, Christian Mingle and eHarmony dating services, purchases at Victoria’s Secret, Bed Bath and Beyond, an oxygen bar, and vaping stores.

“Why would you take money from rescuing animals to profit your own self? That’s just not right,” Michelle Adams from Chicopee told 22News.

The AG’s complaint alleges Cardinal cannot account for more than $360,000 of the animal rescue’s assets.

We went to the address listed as Cardinal’s home and business address in Palmer to give her the chance to respond to the allegations. Though someone did appear to be home, no one came to the door.

According to the AG’s office, Cardinal founded Destiny’s Road in 2014 as a charitable organization to match dogs in need with homes, paying for things like veterinary care and boarding.

The AG’s office alleges Cardinal raised more than $650,000 in a four year period, using what they called “frequent, sometimes aggressive and deceptive online solicitations” on websites like GoFundMe, pound wishes, and fundrazr.com.

Bob Schmidt, another local resident added, “People are very emotional about their pets, and they’re very generous when it comes to charities for pets, so it’s a particularly vulnerable group of people she’s taking advantage of.”

If Cardinal is found guilty, the Attorney General is asking she face penalties including have to pay back the misused funds and being barred from operating a public charity in Massachusetts.

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