Those are John S. Carter words in a long, rambling, bizarre and sad letter he wrote to the court seeking leniency in his sentencing for looting the Independence Seaport Museum. (John S Carter Oct 17 2007 letter to court)
According to an article in today’s (Oct. 22, 2007) Philadelphia Inquirer (Seaport’s Carter asks for leniency), relatives have provided letters of support and the ex-museum head “can hardly believe” his own admitted criminality. Carter suffered a heart attack on Friday which has postponed his day in court.
According to the Inquirer, in the October 17,2007 letter, Carter’s claims:
- Board members and donors used the museum’s resources to get boats for their own use, even docking them at their “private marinas.”
- No-bid contracts went to the firms of board members for insurance, legal work, and a multimillion renovation job.
- Board members used the museum to store their personal artworks and artifacts – and tapped the staff to care for them.
Justifying his criminal activity, Carter wrote “at some point I began to feel that I should be getting my fair share.”
Of course, these counter accusations are from an admitted criminal on his way to jail so they should be taken with a grain of salt.
I’ve written about this before (here, here, here, here, here and here with thankfully some good news here). As a former nonprofit CEO, it blows my mind that a nonprofit executive could engage in such self dealing for so long. I have wondered where the museum board and senior staff were when all of this was going on; especially since the museum had been under federal investigation since 2004. (Seaport Museum Finances on the Rocks – Inquirer – March 21, 2004). According to his letter to the court, Carter claims to have continued to receive sizable bonuses as recent as December 2006 which if true would seem to indicate that the board was “asleep at the wheel” as he claims. I have never been and hope never to be involved in a federal investigation but I can’t comprehend how the Independence Seaport Museum was embroiled in one since at least 2004 and all of this was still going on.
This is truly a sad story. But it’s also a valuable one to anyone interested in studying leadership.
I hope that the new executive director, Lori Dillard Rech, is able to navigate the Independence Seaport Museum through this unfortunate squall and chart a proper course for the future. Godspeed.
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