Former President Len Pickell Engaged in Improper
Use of Foundation Assets for Personal Benefit
|New York, NY (15 December 2004) - The James Beard Foundation, a national
not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the culinary arts community,
today announced the results of an independent financial audit conducted
by Goldstein Golub Kessler LLP. Based on an earlier investigation and as
referenced in the audit report, the Foundationís legal counsel determined
that there was sufficient evidence to allege that the Foundationís former
President, Leonard Pickell, engaged in inappropriate practices and improper
use of Foundation assets for personal benefit. The New York Attorney Generalís
Office took action with respect to Mr. Pickell earlier this week.
"It is clear that the Foundation has been harmed by these actions, which led to the unsubstantiated expenditures incurred by our former President," said George Sape, Chairman of The James Beard Foundation Board of Trustees and Managing Partner of Epstein, Becker & Green. "The Foundation has rapidly grown over the last twenty years and the Boardís focus was on raising money, which it did successfully. Although we were deceived and misled, in retrospect, we would have demanded better financial controls and reporting. Our former President, Len Pickell, who represented himself as a CPA, had principal responsibility for these functions. We regret that this happened and have taken immediate and appropriate action to ensure that it never happens again."
As stated from Note 7 of the audit report, "For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2003, the aggregate amount of the loss from unsubstantiated expenditures is being reported as $371,907, of which (i) $237,951 has been concluded in the Investigation to be improper, and (ii) $133,956 is considered likely of being deemed improper pending receipt of substantiation or other justification. The Investigation report concludes that losses of $373,251 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2002 and $284,915 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2004, are likely to have occurred, pending receipt of substantiation or other justification."
The Foundationís Board of Trustees and management will continue to cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation at the New York Attorney Generalís Office.
Summary of the actions taken and plans to ensure fiscal responsibility, organizational transparency and structural reform
The James Beard Foundation is financially solvent, with a sound balance sheet. The Foundation's Awards and Scholarships programs are moving ahead as planned, and events at the James Beard House continue to enjoy strong community support.
The James Beard Foundation Board of Trustees took action by:
Based in New York City, The James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to furthering the practice and appreciation of the culinary arts in America. In addition to presenting The James Beard Foundation Awards, the Foundation grants more than $250,000 in scholarships annually, holds special events at the historic James Beard House in Greenwich Village and around the nation, and maintains an archival culinary library.
The James Beard Foundation
167 West 12th Street
New York, NY, 10011
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