HOPKINTON, Mass. - In an end to a two-year-long investigation, the former director of Hopkinton's Greyhound Friends Louise Coleman is ordered by the Attorney Generals Office to pay back $40,000 she took from the charity for personal use.
It comes one year after the state barred her from having any contact with the adoption agency she founded. Officials shut down Greyhound Friends for unsanitary conditions before Coleman took a leave of absence, and then was fired in 2017.
"I'm very happy about it. Miss Coleman can never be involved in any charitable work so it's a win," said Stephen Bassignani.
Bassignani is one of several critics who hoped for this outcome. He says he first recognized problems at the kennel when Coleman asked him to help with a pit bull – he says the dog was sick and had been neglected for months.
"I started peeling the onion back and it seemed to be a common occurrence," said Bassignani.
In February of last year, the state shut down Greyhound Friends and the Town of Hopkinton suspended its license. The state sent a cease and desist letter, demanding they bring the kennel up to standards.
Coleman was charged with animal cruelty but acquitted – then the records were sealed.
Now, Coleman will have to pay back the funds she took and the board will have to keep meticulous records. The settlement also imposes staggered board terms and term limits. It's the only way Bassignani sees change coming to Greyhound Friends.
"It's hard for me to believe that things will change unless they have a complete change of management," said Bassignani.
Coleman and Greyhound Friends declined to speak on camera but Greyhound Friends board of director issued a statement which reads:
"Over the past 35 years, Greyhound Friends has rehomed over 10,000 dogs and engaged in results-driven education and advocacy improving the safety and welfare of this unique breed."
The Hopkinton Board of Selectmen will decide on September 11 whether to issue them a license.
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