Kirkland art philanthropist indicted on federal charges of mail fraud, money laundering and tax evasion
By CARRIE RODRIGUEZ
Kirkland Reporter Editor
October 11, 2011 · Updated 12:38 PM
A former well-known Kirkland art philanthropist was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on charges of mail fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.
William G. Ballantine faces eight counts of mail fraud, six counts of money laundering and two counts of income tax evasion, according to records filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado on Wednesday. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
A Colorado native, Ballantine is the son of the late Arthur and Morley Ballantine and shares ownership in Ballantine Communications Inc. that publishes several community papers, including The Durango Herald, the newspaper reports.
In 2002, Ballantine became involved in a controversy over artworks that he had loaned for display to the City of Kirkland from his private art collection. Among them were a bronze statue of Robert Frost at City Hall and one called "Nike Girl" that was displayed on Lake Street South.
Ballantine removed the statues as he struggled to deal with financial difficulties, and the city began a fund-raising effort to preserve several of his other statues, including the most well-known sculpture at Marina Park, "Puddle jumpers."
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of mail fraud; up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each count of money laundering; and up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines on each of two counts of tax evasion.
According to the indictment, Ballantine is charged with defrauding the William Ballantine Fund, the National Philanthropic Trust and St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Durango, Colo. from August 2008 to September 2009.
Part of the alleged scheme involved taking $395,000 from the charitable fund in his name.
Ballantine established the fund through an agreement with the National Philanthropic Trust, a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation. Under the agreement, the trust managed the fund, which was funded by the Morley C. Ballantine Charitable Lead Trust Agreement.
Ballantine owned the fund assets and was authorized to designate charitable entities as donation recipients from the fund, according to court records.
The charges continue that the Kirkland man authorized the trust to mail $395,000 to St. Mark's, $35,000 of which he directed the church to keep as a donation.
Ballantine also directed a church representative to deposit the remaining $360,000 into his personal bank accounts, the charges add.
He told the church he was in the process of establishing a charitable organization and that the funds transferred from the church to his personal bank account would be used for charitable purposes, according to court documents.
The scheme also involved Ballantine impersonating an accountant, sending letters to the church from a CPA named "Theodore Campbell," the charges add.
Contact Kirkland Reporter Editor Carrie Rodriguez at email@example.com or 1-425-822-9166 (ext 5050).