The Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office is not pursuing criminal charges against the Vineyard Trust.
Assistant District Attorney Tara Miltimore confirmed criminal charges were not being pursued in an email to The Times Thursday. “After a complete review of all investigatory materials submitted to date, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to support any criminal charges,” Miltimore wrote. “However, should any new evidence come to light, then the matter will be reconsidered.”
The investigation into the Trust began after issues arose on June 4, when The Times reported that a construction quote for work to be done on the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown had been altered before being submitted as an article on the town meeting warrant requesting $175,751 in Community Preservation committee (CPC) funding. The investigation included a similar issue of an altered CPC application with the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs.
The Trust is a nonprofit organization that oversees the maintenance of 20 historic properties on the Island such as Flying Horses, the Old Whaling Church, and Alley’s General Store.
Former Trust board chair Patrick Ahearn launched an internal investigation which led to the resignation of former Trust president and CEO Funi Burdick.
Trust board chair John Klein, who succeeded Ahearn in July, told The Times by phone that he was delighted no charges were being sought. “We launched a significant internal investigation when this became public knowledge,” Klein said. “We came up with nothing other than poor judgment from two employees, neither of whom is now employed by the Trust.”
Klein said a second employee was let go not only in connection to the CPC funding, but for broader issues as well. He declined to name the employee.
Despite losing CPC funding from the town, the Trust is moving forward with the painting of the Whaling Church, thanks to the efforts of a “community member,” Klein said, declining to name the individual. The community member raised $300,000 to do the painting. “It was a real treat for us that someone in the community would come forward and do that,” Klein said.
The Whaling Church work is expected to begin the third week of October.
Additionally, Klein said, the Trust was focused on their mission and the recent reopening of Alley’s General Store. “We’re staying very much focused on moving forward as an organization and the good things we do in the community,” Klein said. “Hopefully we can work with the community so they can understand the benefit we bring to these properties.”
Oak Bluffs select board chair Brian Packish said he was pleased there was an investigation. “I’m happy there has been a thorough investigation, and the Trust has acknowledged the issue and made significant adjustments,” Packish said.
Edgartown town administrator James Hagerty and Oak Bluffs town administrator Deborah Potter could not immediately be reached for comment.