Defense rests in Greene charity fraud trial


The request for a mistrial due to comments made by a witness was denied, as the trial continued for a former CEO accused of taking money from the charity she ran and using it for personal gain.

On Thursday, Wood County Common Pleas Judge Joel Kuhlman denied a defense request for a mistrial after it was announced that Linda Greene had been arrested earlier this year.

Kuhlman corrected defense attorney Jeffrey Collins, who said the state had indicated his client had been arrested and it gave the jury an innuendo of guilt.

Defense witness Jimmy Bramlin had commented on Greene’s arrest during cross examination, Kuhlman said.

“I’m sympathetic to her situation and what has happened to Impact With Hope,” Bramlin said while on the stand Thursday morning.

Greene, 74, was indicted in February 2021 for telecommunications fraud, tampering with records, theft and two counts of prohibited acts and practices for charities.

She was arrested in May 2022 after she allegedly disregarded bond requirements by continuing to have contact with the charity and remaining involved with fundraising. She was told to move out of the Lighthouse, which is where Impact With Hope was based, in February.

Wood County Assistant Prosecutor Dexter Phillips said Tuesday that Greene has spent more than $400,000 of charity funds for personal gain.

The defense called Bramlin, who has served on the Impact With Hope board since 2003, as its second witness.

He said he became good friends with Greene and her late husband Stan, after traveling with the charity’s medical team to Haiti in 1998.

Bramlin served as chairman of the board from 2011-18. He did not live in Ohio during that time.

He disputed the state’s earlier claim that funds spent at the Lighthouse weren’t authorized. He listed upkeep of the swimming pool, which was in place when the property was purchased, and landscaping at the site as being acceptable expenses.

“We wanted it to be a serene place,” Bramlin said, adding the Lighthouse also was used as a conference center and residence for missionaries.

The board met at least twice a year and reviewed expenditures, which were provided by Greene, he said.

The board was not trained on board governance or best practices, Bramlin said in response to a question by Wood County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Pamela Gross. He agreed that board members had a fiduciary duty to make sure financial records were in order.

The board did not preapprove expenses taken by Greene from the charity or reimbursements she made to herself, he said.

“You trusted her to provide you with accurate information,” Gross said to Bramlin.

“Yes,” he responded.

“You simply trusted what she did with the money,” Gross said.

“Correct,” Bramlin said.

He said that the board has since given up the organization.

Don King testified his accounting firm conducted the audits for the charity from 2011-18 and oversaw the charity’s account but not Greene’s personal account.

Wood County Assistant Prosecutor Dexter Phillips pointed out that King, who was a certified public accountant, was not a certified fraud examiner and did not perform a forensic audit from 2011-18.

King said he received information for the audits from Greene and if he had any questions, he’d ask her.

He said he knew about three or four bank accounts held by the charity, but denied knowing there were actually six with Key Bank and six with American Express.

“I was aware she couldn’t make her payments, so I advised her to close the accounts,” King said about the credit cards.

King said the last audit performed by his company was in 2017 because Greene couldn’t pay them for additional work.

Also Thursday, the state was given the opportunity to speak to defense witness, Frank Wright, who was a last-minute addition.

Gross objected to his testimony.

Kuhlman overturned the objection but said testimony should be only about the charity’s website and how donations were made.

Wright, an IT systems network engineer, said that each unique donation on the Impact With Hope website went into a PayPal account. The donor received a receipt, and the charity was given a report of what account the funds were to go.

He said he set up the charity’s accounts so that donations were automatically transferred into the charity’s bank account.

Wright told Gross that Impact owed him $26,000. He was asked Tuesday to testify, and he had spent $700 on a flight from Florida and a car rental he also hoped to be reimbursed for.

Gross pointed out that funds from PayPal can be manually transferred into any chosen account.

“Bottom line is, you don’t know where that PayPal money goes,” Gross said.

“I don’t follow them around,” Wright responded.

Closing arguments will be held Friday.

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