Looting charitable trusts, Pat Haden edition
Theft can take many forms and criminals are found in many venues. Paul Pringle and Nathen Fenno report in the LA Times on a particularly flagrant example of looting a charitable trust:
Seventeen years ago, former USC and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Pat Haden joined the board of an old, little-known charitable foundation that helps needy young people get an education.
The George Henry Mayr Foundation, established in 1949, has no office of its own, no full-time staff and no website. Its founder and namesake wanted it to be a thrifty operation that gave as much scholarship money as possible to California educational institutions.
Under Haden’s leadership as board chairman, however, the $25-million foundation became a lucrative source of income for him and two of his family members — even as its scholarship spending plunged to a three-decade low and the size of its endowment stagnated, a Times investigation has found.
Haden, his daughter and sister-in-law together collected about $2.4 million from the foundation for part-time roles involving as little as one hour of work per week, according to the foundation’s federal tax returns for 1999 to 2014, the most recent year available.
Half of that, about $1.2 million, went to Haden. His annual board fees have been as high as $84,000; the foundation paid him $72,725 in 2014.
During Haden’s tenure on the board, donations directed to USC, where he has been athletic director for nearly six years, far outpaced the amounts given to any other school, a Times analysis of the tax records shows.
Haden, 63, was a paid advisor to the foundation in 1998 and became board chairman the following year. His father-in-law, Benjamin F. Grier, was a board member from 1984 until his death in 1999. Catherine Grier Olson, Haden’s sister-in-law, became a member a year later, in 2000.
Since then, Olson, 59, has received more than $750,000 for her director duties.
Natalie O’Connor, Haden’s 37-year-old daughter, has held part-time positions at the foundation and received about $470,000 in payments since 2005, according to tax records. She has been variously identified on its tax returns as a director, secretary and administrative worker.
Under terms of the foundation’s trust, the three board members can pay themselves “reasonable compensation” with the approval of Wells Fargo Bank, the trustee, which received about $166,000 in 2014 to manage the finances. . .