The 23-page court document accuses Boyle of using funds from the Delta Phi Epsilon Foundation for Foreign Service Education to help purchase a home for himself on 34th Street NW in Georgetown that is now worth more than $1 million. The complaint also accuses Boyle, a former attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, of improperly arranging to sell Delta Phi Epsilon’s chapter house last year for about $2.6 million — well below its appraisal of more than $4 million — by diverting the fraternity’s charitable asset into the foundation, which he runs.
The complaint also alleges that Boyle withheld financial details from fellow fraternity members or provided them with inaccurate information about the chapter house’s sale. Afterward, he allegedly requested and received unspecified proceeds from an escrow fund in violation of an agreement with D.C. investigators.
Boyle, a graduate of Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and its law school, has denied the allegations in court papers and in a brief interview.
“All of that stuff is nonsense,” Boyle, 80, said when visited by a reporter at his 34th Street home, which is less than a block from the former chapter house. Boyle was accompanied by Matthew G. Ellison, 25, a 2018 Georgetown graduate and fraternity member who is also the foundation’s president. Ellison declined to comment.
The attorney general’s civil complaint, filed June 3 in D.C. Superior Court, says the subsidized purchase of Boyle’s private home in 1990 and the sale of Delta Phi Epsilon’s chapter house in June 2020 were improper schemes that occurred without necessary oversight from fellow fraternity members, whose donations Boyle helped solicit over the years.
The Delta Phi Epsilon foundation’s charitable assets, including bequests of as much as $52,000, were designated for student scholarships. Yet the foundation has never awarded a scholarship and ceased to function after Boyle took control in 1984, the complaint alleges.
“As far as I know, the only charitable work the foundation has ever done is provide housing for Terry Boyle,” said Georgetown graduate and fraternity member James Abely, 55. “He took over the fraternity and ran it into the ground.”
(Delta Phi Epsilon’s national organization — which is chartered in Delaware and lists Boyle as secretary and principal officer, according to public records — is not a defendant in the D.C. attorney general’s complaint. James-Michael von Stroebel, 94, its immediate past president and a 1955 gradate of Georgetown, said the umbrella organization has had nothing to do with the foundation and defended Boyle’s service to the fraternity at every level.)
The attorney general’s complaint against Delta Phi Epsilon’s Alpha Chapter seeks court-appointed oversight and reform of the nonprofit organizations, as well as unspecified remedies for Boyle’s “impermissible use” of their charitable assets. The complaint also seeks to bar Boyle from any further leadership role.
Boyle — described by fraternity brothers as a devout Catholic who is intelligent, mercurial, sharp-tongued and eccentric — has held officers’ positions in the fraternity and the foundation since 1980, the complaint says. It alleges that he fought off bylaw changes challenging his control by restricting access to membership lists and gathering proxy votes from inattentive or like-minded fraternity members.
Boyle’s alleged actions went largely unnoticed until several alumni rekindled their interest in the Alpha Chapter and began examining its finances, said Chris Christon, a Georgetown graduate and fraternity member who served in Vietnam and Air Force intelligence.
Their findings were spelled out in a 12-page letter that circulated among approximately 900 fraternity members in August 2020 and raised questions about the sale of the fraternity house, the chapter’s home for 80 years. Christon said he was troubled by the chapter’s overall lack of financial accounting, transparency and other basic practices of nonprofit governance.
“We just stumbled on it,” said Christon, 75. “We were just trying to figure out how to reinvigorate this organization. We weren’t trying to overthrow anybody, kick out anybody.”
Several fraternity brothers said Boyle’s control over the chapter has as much to do with power as money. He controls production of the chapter’s alumni newsletter, the Sun, several fraternity members said. He has opposed admitting women and “foreign” students to any Delta Phi Epsilon chapter, a dispute that became public after the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on it in 2018. Abely and Christon said Boyle also assumed responsibility for recruiting members, including 10 initiates in 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic closed the university.
“Terry seemed to view the fraternity as an extension of himself. It was his alter ego,” said Tom McCarthy, 60, a Georgetown graduate and fraternity brother. “But no one realized he was really gaining control.”
But Matthew B. Mixa, a 1994 Georgetown graduate and fraternity member who served 20 years in the Marine Corps, said he believes Boyle has been unjustly accused.
“My view is that the attorney general’s opinion is 100 percent wrong, that none of that happened,” said Mixa, 49, who also served on the foundation’s board. “Every step that he took had the full support of the board and … no one profited off of the charitable assets of the fraternity.”
Mixa, who pledged the fraternity in April 1991 and joined the foundation’s board later, said Boyle contributed far more than he benefited through his decades of unpaid service managing the chapter house and Delta Phi Epsilon’s affairs. Mixa said the reason the foundation never granted scholarships is that it never amassed enough money to do more than cover the expense of social events that featured distinguished speakers.
Mixa acknowledged, however, that he had not paid close attention to the fraternity’s or foundation’s affairs during his 20-year military career, including three tours of duty in Iraq. And he was uncertain about his status on the foundation’s board. He said he thought he resigned a few years ago, but a two-year report filed in 2020 with the District’s Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Department lists him as a current board member.
Boyle referred questions about Delta Phi Epsilon to attorney Harvey J. Volzer, a Georgetown graduate and fraternity member who represents Boyle, the chapter and the foundation.
“Terry Boyle is probably the straightest guy you’ll ever meet,” said Volzer, who met Boyle in 1968 when Volzer pledged the fraternity. “I can give you literally hundreds of former fraternity brothers that will attest to what a great guy he is and how honest and about how he puts the fraternity above everything else. That may seem strange to people — me included — but that’s what he is. He’s a quirky guy.”
Volzer said Boyle has not profited from the fraternity, including proceeds from the chapter house sale that remain in escrow.
“If you ever saw Terry, you’d know he’s not spending fraternity money on himself,” Volzer said. “Terry doesn’t care about clothes. He doesn’t care about cars. I don’t even think Terry’s ever had a car.”
Volzer characterized the complaint as baseless and said he intends to seek legal sanctions against Racine’s office under a provision designed to punish frivolous or knowingly fraudulent litigation.
“It’s a crying shame that these clowns brought this suit,” Volzer said. “He has no good-faith factual basis for that complaint, and he’s lucky that he has immunity from defamation suits because he is the AG.”
Volzer did not respond to requests to answer additional questions.
A spokeswoman for Racine’s office says its complaint speaks for itself. “The Office of the Attorney General enforces District law, and we file suit when we uncover evidence that the law has been broken,” she said.
The attorney general has civil enforcement powers to ensure that nonprofit organizations incorporated in the District use charitable assets and govern themselves in accordance with the law. Among the nonprofits his office has investigated are former president Donald Trump’s inaugural committee and the National Rifle Association. With Virginia’s attorney general, the office has also investigated the American Horticultural Society’s proposed sale of River Farm.
Delta Phi Epsilon was created by students at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service after World War I. The fraternity, incorporated in 1920, was considered the first professional fraternity dedicated to cultivating careers in foreign trade and diplomacy. Dozens of other chapters followed, and eventually sororities.
The founding Alpha Chapter hosted gatherings that featured visiting college professors, foreign ambassadors, State Department officials and alumni back from foreign study or trips abroad.
“What interested me was the caliber of the brothers,” McCarthy said.
In 1940, the fraternity purchased its chapter house at 3401 Prospect St. NW for $27,500. The three-story brick house, built in 1869, came with three fireplaces, a library and 15 rooms. There were keggers, but hardly the kind of wild frat parties depicted in “Animal House,” members said.
“John Belushi never would have pledged the fraternity,” Volzer said, referring to the movie’s late star.
Boyle was initiated into Delta Phi Epsilon in April 1963, along with 10 members of the 86th Line, as the fraternity refers to semiannual classes of pledges. He graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service that year, served with the Army in Vietnam in 1966, obtained a Georgetown law degree in 1972 and went to work for the FTC’s Division of Compliance, according to his LinkedIn bio and his personal website. Over the years, he compiled a history of the School of Foreign Service, an extensive genealogy of his Irish American family and a collection of James Bond 007 memorabilia, his website says.
Since 1980, Boyle also has served as treasurer, secretary, director or a registered agent for Delta Phi Epsilon’s chapter and foundation, public documents and court records say.
Bylaws require that the fraternity, classified as a 501(c)(7) tax-exempt fraternal organization, be governed by a five-member board composed of current members and alumni, but the complaint and publicly filed tax returns, known as 990s, list only three besides Boyle. None of the board members responded to emails and phone calls seeking comment.
The Delta Phi Epsilon Foundation for Foreign Service Education was chartered in 1960 to provide student scholarships. The foundation — a 501(c)(3) charitable organization eligible to receive tax-exempt donations — was governed by nine fraternity members who founded it until around 1984, when Boyle gained control, the complaint says.
Since then, the foundation has failed to conduct business, award scholarships or engage in any activity that furthers its nonprofit purpose, the complaint says. The 2020 report on file with the District’s Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Department lists only four members, including Mixa. None of the other board members responded to emails or phone calls seeking comment.
The attorney general’s complaint focuses much of its attention on the purchase and sale of two properties. In 1990, Boyle and the foundation purchased a residence on 34th Street NW for $345,000, the complaint says. Boyle contributed $50,000 toward the down payment; the foundation paid $150,000. The foundation also paid 20 percent of the mortgage payments and split the real estate taxes and insurance premiums. Boyle paid no rent to the foundation and used proceeds from house rentals to lower his expenses further, the complaint says.
Eight years after the purchase, the foundation sold its ownership interest to Boyle for $150,000 — a sum that failed to account for the property’s appreciation in value or the foundation’s expenditures on the mortgage, taxes and insurance, the complaint says. Boyle still resides there.
Manuel A. Miranda, who contacted The Washington Post and identified himself as the foundation’s attorney, defended the house’s purchase as a joint real estate investment. Miranda, a Georgetown graduate who was not a Delta Phi Epsilon member, said Boyle received no financial benefit, because Boyle paid the foundation back.
“There is no improper governance,” Miranda said, referring to the foundation. He also said the allegations had been created by dissident fraternity members who hope to enrich themselves with Delta Phi Epsilon’s assets.
More recently, the complaint says, Boyle undertook maneuvers to improperly divest the fraternity and its membership of their most significant asset — the chapter house — and transfer it into the foundation.
In 2019, Boyle advocated for the sale of the chapter house and the purchase of a smaller one. That December, the fraternity’s board — consisting at the time of Boyle and two other members — authorized him to list the property, the complaint says. The decision was ratified at the fraternity’s annual meeting in February 2020 by a majority vote of the 348 members in attendance or voting by proxy, and the house went on the market.
In early June, however, ownership of the chapter house was transferred to the foundation for $1, the complaint says. It says the foundation sold the chapter house a few weeks later for about $2.6 million to 3401 Prospect Street LLC, an entity the complaint says is owned by Nashville L. Peart, a District resident.
District investigators learned later that the sale had been done without a bank or other financial institution, the complaint says. Instead, the foundation acted as the lender, effectively extending a mortgage to Peart’s business for an $800,000 down payment, a $1.83 million balloon payment in July 2022 and interim interest payments of $11,000 a month.
Boyle told the attorney general’s office he had no financial interest in the transaction and no prior relationship with Peart, the complaint says. But McCarthy, who met Peart around the time of the sale, said Peart told him otherwise.
“He told me that he had known Terry for quite a while,” McCarthy said.
Peart did not respond to telephone calls and emails seeking comment.
Alice Crites contributed to this report.