- SNOHOMISH COUNTY HORSE RESCUE ORDERED TO AUDIT ALL ACCOUNTS OR BE FINE
- By Cheryl Hqanna – The Examiner
An Arlington based horse rescue, People Helping Horses will be required to undergo major organizational financial changes or face $50,000 in penalties. On Friday, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office reached a settlement agreement over the misuse of charitable funds.
The organization was charged with misleading and deceptive business practices and violating the Charitable Solicitations Act.
Executive director of People Helping Horses, Gretchen Salstrom was charged with using money intended for the horse rescue for her own personal use. Authorities cited Salstrom had used public funding for her own horse, her dog breeding business, and travel and entertainment expenses that had nothing to do with the organization. Salstrom claimed funds were being channeled to a therapeutic riding programs for children with disabilities, and that the travel expenses were being used for checking on horses after they were adopted.
The alleged therapeutic riding program was not in existence, and Salstrom failed to prove that credit and debit card expenses had anything to do with the horse rescue business.
A 2011 complaint initiated the investigation.
As part of the settlement agreement, Salstrom is prohibited from heading any nonprofit organization for the next ten years, has been ordered to pay back $5,000 in attorney fees, and will no longer be allowed to participate in any of the organization’s programs.
People Helping Horses faces up to $50,000 in penalties, but the State Attorney General’s Office will suspend the fine if the organization agrees to keeping donations in separate accounts, using the donations for the correct program, agreeing to financial audits by a certified public accountant every three years, and banning Salstrom from all activities.
Read more about this settlement from the Attorney General’s Office by clicking here.
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