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Monday, September 24, 2012

Time for Answers from DiBello, Part 4

Oops, she did it again
By Will Collette

For Part 1, click here
For Part 2, click here
For Part 3, click here

Continuing my series of articles in response to Charlestown Town Council member Lisa DiBello’s June 25 public attack on me from the Council dais for being a “liar,” I am reviewing the volumes of material I’ve presented here in Progressive Charlestown and the questions that DiBello has never answered.

DiBello’s track record shows a persistent disdain for accountability. In Part 2, I reviewed her refusal to provide copies of her IRS-990 reports for her home-based “charity,” A Ray of Hope, as she is required to do by federal law. These reports, filed annually with the Internal Revenue Service, are supposed to detail a charity’s income and expenses. The IRS-990 reports are the single most important accountability tool available to the public on the behavior of nonprofit charities.

DiBello has also never filed the simple, two-page annual report with the RI Secretary of State by the June 30 deadline. Ever. For the entire 12 years since A Ray of Hope was incorporated. The main information in this report is a listing of the officers and board members who, by law, have a fiduciary responsibility to properly manage the nonprofit.

DiBello just filed her latest state report, late, as usual, on August 17, more than a month and a half overdue.


This is better than usual for DiBello, who often doesn’t file an annual report until she gets a reprimand letter and fine from the Secretary of State. So far, DiBello has received six reprimand letters. On two occasions, DiBello ignored the reprimand letter. That led the Secretary of State to twice revoke A Ray of Hope’s corporate charter and, along with it, its right to operate in Rhode Island.

When DiBello started A Ray of Hope, she loaded its Board of Directors with friends who also happened to work for the town. DiBello herself was Director of Parks and Recreation. Her Vice-President was Deborah Dellolio, her housemate, who also worked as a town contractor under DiBello’s direct oversight.

Jo Anne Santos was and is A Ray of Hope’s treasurer. Santos also was and still is Charlestown’s tax collector. A nonprofit’s treasurer bears special responsibility for financial management of the nonprofit and compliance with federal and state reporting requirements.

Police Lieutenant Patrick McMahon, recent runner-up in the competition for Police Chief, also served on A Ray of Hope’s board, as did Mike Gledhill (Charlestown Ambulance Service) and Lisa Schipritt, who worked for Lisa at the now-closed Charlestown Driving Range.

Lynn (Craig) Fiske has also served on the board for years. She is former Town Council President John Craig’s ex-wife. In 2011, she was also employed by a town contractor, working for Deborah Dellolio’s town beach concession, the Dog Pound, before the Dog Pound lost the town contract due to problems with performance.

The new A Ray of Hope filing shows a number of changes to the board roster.

Lt. McMahon, Lisa Schipritt and Mike Gledhill left A Ray of Hope’s board sometime between 2007 and 2010 when DiBello allowed A Ray of Hope’s charter to be revoked for several years. When A Ray of Hope was finally reinstated in 2010, these three long-time board members were gone.

The new state corporate filing shows another new shake-up. A Ray of Hope founder, former town contractor and DiBello housemate, Deborah Dellolio is now off the list. So is Lynn Craig Fiske.

DiBello remains and Jo Anne Santos remains.

Filling in for the now-gone board members is John Santos (shown as “Santo” on the filing). He is listed on the report as having the same box number as Jo Anne Santos. However, his Charlestown address is listed on the tax rolls as 15 Piper Court – but as an absentee owner who actually lives in Cromwell, CT.

There’s nothing wrong with a Rhode Island nonprofit listing out-of-state directors – the RI Statewide Coalition has lots of out-of-state directors – but the inconsistency in Santos’s address listing on the Secretary of State filing raises yet another in the long list of questions Lisa DiBello has never answered about A Ray of Hope. Why not list him at his actual residence?

Before DiBello allowed A Ray of Hope to devolve into dormancy, it used to raise a lot of money. If DiBello’s charity never raised any money and never claimed to do anything, there would be little reason to demand accountability other than to insist on strict compliance. But since statements DiBello and her board members made in the media indicate that at least $100,000 (plus the missing car) went to A Ray of Hope, she has a legal requirement to disclose her IRS-990 reports to show what she did with the money.

It’s not a hard question for a nonprofit manager to explain how the money was handled, provided everything was done honestly. It’s a reasonable question for voters to ask before giving DiBello another term on the Town Council.