Federal prosecutors announced an eight-count indictment Tuesday against Patricia P. Driscoll, charging her with a fraud and tax-evasion scheme as president of the Armed Forces Foundation, a Washington-based charity that assists veterans.
Driscoll resigned July 12 after 12 years at the military charity following reports by Kickin’ the Tires, an online site that covers NASCAR, and ESPN “Outside the Lines” on her alleged mishandling of funds. In a December tax filing, the foundation reported it had “become aware of suspected misappropriations” by Driscoll totaling about $600,000 from 2006 to 2014.
During that time, the foundation, which has ties to several sports entities, regularly claimed that 94 to 96 percent of donations went directly to military members and their families, according to court files. The charity reported $2.3 million in donations in 2014.
Instead, prosecutors said, Driscoll allegedly reported sham donors and donations, failed to disclose fundraising commissions she received in addition to her $154,440 salary, and spent foundation money on personal expenses that included payroll and legal fees, business rent, and covering charges on a credit card she used for the private security business she operated in a rowhouse that also served as the foundation office and that she came to co-own with the foundation.
Prosecutors alleged that Driscoll lied to the Internal Revenue Service by failing to include fundraising commissions and other benefits when helping the charity prepare Form 990s, annual IRS disclosures that tax-exempt groups must file.
Driscoll, 38, of Ellicott City, Md., was charged with two counts each of wire fraud, mail fraud and tax evasion and one count of attempts to interfere with administration of internal-revenue laws. In addition to federal charges, she was charged with first-degree fraud under District law. The charges span from 2010 to 2015.
“Ms. Driscoll denies the unproven allegations that have been made against her and looks forward to being able to contest them in court,” said her attorney, Barry J. Pollack of Miller & Chevalier.
The foundation said in a statement Wednesday that it, “profoundly regrets that funds meant to support our Veterans were diverted for personal gain,” according to Ralph J. Caccia of the Wiley Rein law firm, adding the foundation is cooperating in the case.
ESPN reported at the time of Driscoll’s resignation this summer that the foundation thanked Driscoll for her work and issued a statement in her behalf , stating: “I am proud of what we achieved during my time at the Armed Forces Foundation. Especially as it pertains to PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and TBI [traumatic brain injury], the foundation is saving lives by creating awareness and helping veterans find the services they need before taking tragic and drastic steps such as suicide.”
Driscoll was in the news in 2014 after Driscoll accused NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, her then-boyfriend, of grabbing her by the throat and slamming her head against a wall during an argument in his motor home at Dover International Speedway.
At a hearing over her request for a protective order against the 2004 Sprint Cup champion, Busch stated that Driscoll was a trained assassin who once returned from an assignment in a blood-spattered evening gown. Driscoll did not deny the claim under oath but said Busch lifted it from a movie script she had been writing.
A judge granted a protective order in early 2015.
The indictment in the alleged charity fraud was announced by U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips; Paul M. Abbate, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office; and Thomas Jankowski, special agent in charge of the Washington field office of IRS-Criminal Investigation.