Anderson Cooper talks to Jason Puracal, who was sentenced to 22 years in a notorious prison. He says he's innocent.
Editor's note: After Part I, watch Part II of Drew Griffin's investigation.
A charity that raised close to $27 million to help animals worldwide spent nearly all of that money on fund-raising expenses paid to a direct-mail company.
In addition, CNN found that the charity, SPCA International, misrepresented one of its programs called "Baghdad Pups" on its tax filings and hired an officer for that program with a questionable background.
In 2010, SPCA International owed $8.4 million to Quadriga Art LLCand its affiliated company, Brickmill Marketing Services, according to publicly available Internal Revenue Service 990 tax records.
Quadriga Art is one of the world's largest direct-mail providers to charities and nonprofits. It is the same fund-raiser hired by two veterans charities that spent tens of millions of dollars for its services - triggering a Senate investigation last month into whether one of the charities should retain its tax-exempt status.
That charity, Washington-based Disabled Veterans National Foundation, collected nearly $56 million in donations over the past three years yet paid Quadriga Art more than $60 million in fees,according to a CNN investigation into the charity's tax records.
CNN's Jason Carroll reports on emotional testimony given by an alleged victim on day three of the Jerry Sandusky trial.
Anderson Cooper talks to Paul Begala and Gloria Borger about President Obama's challenge of discussing the economy.
It's the greatest scandal you forgot existed on the RidicuList: Miss USA contestants claim the pageant was fixed.
Tom Kline, a lawyer for alleged "victim 5," says his client felt Jerry Sandusky was was trying to make him uncomfortable in court.
New allegations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency could spell trouble for Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion.
Reporter's Note: President Obama receives a letter from me each day. I’m not holding back.
Dear Mr. President,
So your pal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is calling GOP tactics in Congress a “wall of blind obstruction.” (I mean, of course, when he’s not calling for an investigation into the Bradley-Pacquiao fight.) He is hardly the first. But the suggestion goes beyond that. Some on the Democratic side are now convinced that some Republicans are purposely trying to derail anything that might make the economy get better, because an economy that stays bad gives them a better chance of bumping you from the Oval Office.
This sounds familiar. I think I recall the same accusations during the midterm election, and something like it in 2008, when some GOP’ers accused Dems of a similar tactic aimed at making the Bush years look so bad that the Democratic candidate had to win the presidency. I hear speculation about these Machiavellian plots every few years, and I’m always somewhat less than convinced. Not because I think it is beneath Republicans to pull such a trick (or Democrats for that matter) but because I just don’t think either side could actually pull it off.
Such triangulation relies not only careful coordination (which neither party seems particularly capable of) but also a series of causes and effects; like an elaborate combination shot on a pool table. The dastardly pols in question would have to a) Successfully block every program that might help the economy, b) Not be called out by the public for doing so, c) Simultaneously make sure blame continued to rain down on the opposite party, and d) Time it all out so that voters somehow reward them for this bit of nefariousness in November. (Hey! That sounds like a political, thriller “Nefarious in November”)
All of that makes me skeptical that that is the plan here. Are the Repubs being obstructionist? Sure. The evidence is clear. But is that because, as some of your Democratic buddies suggest, because they are just bad people? That’s where it gets awfully murky. Maybe, as the Repubs say, they just don’t like your ideas about how to run government, how to handle taxes, immigration, the deficit, and everything else. Maybe they are Republicans precisely because they disagree with your approach and feel they are doing their duty to impede every program of yours every step of the way. That makes them opponents to be sure, and a massive headache for your side, but not bad people.
Who knows where the truth lies? All I know is that both sides periodically see deep, dark, evil plots among their foes…and never more than when that foe has figured out how to stymie the home team’s efforts….fairly or not.
If you look at the dogs and cats being so well cared for by the Montreal SPCA, you’d think it’s a charity in solid shape.
But the executive director of the charity told CNN that the organization is still in significant debt to a U.S. direct mail fund raising company after signing a seven year contract.
Nicholas Gilman, the Montreal SPCA’s Executive Director, told CNN’s Drew Griffin that his charity once owed a little more than $4 million to a company called Quadriga Art, headquartered in New York City. Quadriga Art is the same direct mail company still owed more than $15 million by a Washington-based veterans charity, now under investigation by the Senate Finance Committee. That $4 million debt has now been whittled down to around $1.7 million but Quadriga Art, Gilman said, also has a lien on the charity’s shelter in Montreal.
Tonight’s report is the first in a two part investigative series. Tomorrow night, Keeping Them Honest, we’ll have a story about how the fired president of that Canadian charity became the president of a new U.S. animal charity whose signature program called “Baghdad Pups” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
American Jason Puracal is in one of the world's most dangerous prisons. The Washington state native calls Nicaragua's infamous La Modelo prison a "hellhole." Puracal, 35, claims he's been wrongly condemned to 22 years behind bars.
Nicaraguan authorities don't see it that way. They say Puracal was using his real estate business in San Juan del Sur as a front to launder money and run an international drug trafficking operation. Puracal was arrested in November 2010. But no drugs were found and no evidence linking him to the charges was presented at his trial, his supporters say. Still, he was convicted of the crimes.
For the past 18 months, Puracal and his supporters have been fighting for his release. A U.N. group is calling for his freedom. While, 43 members of the U.S. House sent a letter urging Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to order an independent review of his case.
Puracal called Anderson from behind bars to talk about his ordeal. Watch a preview above and see the full interview at 8 and 10 p.m. ET tonight.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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