LOS ANGELES (CN) - A dog-loving couple claims in court that a shelter for German shepherds misused $2 million of the $4.7 million they donated to care for the dogs.
The Ronald and Catherine Gershman Foundation sued Westside German Shepherd Rescue of Los Angeles and its founder, Robin Jampol in Superior Court.
The Gershmans say they donated $4.7 million to the Westside German Shepherd Rescue (WGSR) from 2008 to 2012 "to provide care and adoption services for neglected, stray or surrendered German shepherds."
But the Gershmans say Jampol and the shelter "engaged in a self-dealing scheme to convert to their own uses the funds and property received for use exclusively at the Pontius [Avenue] facility."
The Gershmans' attorney, Patricia Glaser, told Courthouse News: "The Gershmans are both dog lovers, and for many, many years have been interested in dog rescue.
"They gravitated naturally to this organization, and put their heart and soul into it, so it's unfortunate that the situation got to this point."
Jampol founded Westside Rescue in 2002 to rescue "German shepherd dogs from high-kill shelters and plac(e) them for adoption," according to the complaint.
Catherine Gershman, a retired certified therapist, says she began volunteering for, and donating to, the shelter in March 2008.
"At that time, WGSR was struggling financially and relied on an all-volunteer staff. WGSR used donations and adoption fees to board the rescued dogs in a downtown Los Angeles warehouse under a freeway," the complaint states.
In 2009, the owner of the warehouse told the shelter it had to move out when its lease ended, according to the complaint.
The Gershmans claim the shelter has moved about 10 times in 10 years because of Jampol's "pattern of failing to manage the affairs of WGSR so as to stabilize the organization and its board."
Even though it was poorly managed and many dogs were "being held in squalid conditions," the Gershmans say, the shelter's "cadre of committed volunteers was able to rescue and place approximately 700-800 dogs for adoption annually. The Gershman Foundation believed that, were it properly organized and equipped, WGSR could develop into a significant force for animal welfare."
To help the shelter to stabilize and grow, the Gershmans say, they "donated millions of dollars" and "volunteered hundreds of hours of their time to lease, refurbish and outfit" a new facility on Pontius Avenue. They say they paid $840,000 for rent and $17,000 a month for property taxes and parking.
Ronald Gershman, a retired psychiatrist, says he prepared budget projections for the shelter, and met with directors of other animal charities to teach Westside Rescue how to budget, run a complex charity, and hold fund raisers.
He claims he consulted with "charitable organization management consultants" and condensed their advice into an "8-point plan to ensure that WGSR could be professionalized in such a way as to ensure that the Gershman Foundation's charitable investment would not be wasted. WGSR agreed to abide by such requirements as a condition of receiving further donations."
But Jampol was not interested in running the new, more complex charity, Ronald Gershman says, so he, Gershman had to become its executive director.