BRISTOL - A local attorney is being sued by a nonprofit organization that helps military members and veterans who are recovering from injury, alleging he embezzled $1.4 million from a group he started under the guise of contributing funds to the nonprofit.
Kevin Creed, a Litchfield resident who has a law office in Bristol, allegedly misappropriated the funds by making cash withdrawals between 2011 and October 2018 from the Friends of Fisher House Connecticut to “secretly line his own pockets,” the lawsuit states. The civil suit was filed in December on behalf of the Fisher House Foundation Inc. - which provides free housing in a number of locations around the country and in Europe to military members, veterans and their families while they are undergoing medical treatment or rehabilitation from injuries.
Creed does not face criminal charges in connection with the allegations, although an investigation is being conducted.
Creed’s attorney, Joseph Fournier, said Monday he intends to “vigorously defend this.”
“I would hope people will look at Kevin’s record as a state trooper and a decorated veteran before jumping to conclusions,” Fournier continued.
“You can say anything in a lawsuit. We haven’t had a chance to defend it yet.”
According to the civil complaint, Creed, a former Army officer and state trooper, established Friends of Fisher House, Connecticut, running it out of his law firm, with the promise that the organization would solicit donations to help raise money for construction of the only Fisher House in Connecticut - which opened in May 2018 near the VA Hospital in West Haven - and for its operations.
“Instead, however, he has used it as a means to secretly line his own pockets, stealing over a million dollars from Friends, deceiving its donors, and trading onto the public’s goodwill toward the Foundation for the benefit of himself and his law firm,” the complaint alleges.
Friends of Fisher House, Connecticut holds a number of events throughout the year, including the Bristol Half Marathon and 10K, which is promoted as a race to benefit the Connecticut Fisher House. According to the lawsuit, Creed named himself the voluntary chief executive officer of Friends of Fisher House, Connecticut, and had no oversight involved in the establishment’s finances.
“He never enacted bylaws and never established a board of directors,” the lawsuit states.
However, in tax forms filed with the IRS, Creed allegedly listed “members of a fictional board of the corporation that included prominent Connecticut public officials and business figures,” according to the civil complaint. “No board consisting of those persons or any others had ever been appointed, and the listed persons had no knowledge of being described as such and had never agreed to serve as directors.”
In October 2018, according to the lawsuit complaint, the issues surrounding Creed’s handling of things as a voluntary CEO began to surface, and a review of the nonprofit’s finances was conducted. The complaint alleges the review turned up evidence that Creed misappropriated $1.4 million from the Friends of Fisher House, Connecticut, which has raised more than $2.4 million. Additionally, Creed listed two grants on tax forms for about $159,000 and $169,000 in 2016 and 2017, respectively, to the Fisher House Foundation, the complaint continues. These grants were never made, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks a number of different damages, including punitive, and to force Creed to disassociate himself with the Fisher House Foundation and Friends of Fisher House, Connecticut.
According to the lawsuit, Creed in 2014 was found to have violated Connecticut’s Rules for Professional Conduct for attorneys by “commingling funds, using the funds in his client trust account to pay personal expenses and firm expenses….” In determining a penalty, a judge found his work with the Fisher House as a “positive mitigating factor,” the lawsuit states.
“Unbeknownst to the court or anyone else, however, Creed was stealing from Friends, too, during this time period,” the lawsuit alleges.
As a criminal defense attorney, Creed notably represents Janell Commeau, 26, who has been charged with making false rape and stalking complaints against a Bristol police officer.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.