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Gina Clark leaves court April 9th, 2013. CapeCodToday.com photo.
After two-and-half full days of jury selection, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the defense have agreed on a set of men and women to decide the guilt of Touched By Angels founder Gina M. Clark, and Touched By Angels, Incorporated.
The afternoon session of the trial commenced at 2:15 and began with the Clerk Magistrate reading off the full text of the indictments against Gina M. Clark and Touched By Angels. Against Clark were 15 counts of larceny over $250, one count of larceny under $250, one count of larceny under $250, one count of gross fraud over $250, one count of operating an illegal lottery scheme, 10 counts of failing to pay minimum wage, two counts of failing to pay overtime, one count of failing to furnish suitable pay stubs, and one count of independent contractor misclassification. Touched By Angels, Incorporated was also indicted with all of the above charges, except the corporation was charged with 11 counts of larceny over $250, not 15.
The indictments took almost forty minutes to read, after which Judge Rufo preliminarily explained the legal principles of the case to the jury, including the meaning behind the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt,” what exactly a corporation is, and how indictments may be brought against it.
The final action of the day's proceedings consisted of opening statements from Assistant Attorney General Steve Adams, representing the Commonwealth, and Joan M. Fund, representing Gina Clark and Touched By Angels, Incorporated.
Adams said that the case was about broken promises to vulnerable families, business owners, the general public, and employees.
Adams went on to describe how Clark allegedly came to start TBA. In August 2007, he said, Clark wanted to open her own business after having left a medical facility, and she allegedly toyed with the idea of opening a spa or nail salon before reaching out to Dawn Hand and forming Touched By Angels. Adams also stated that Clark shared false personal stories with families in order to form a connection with them, including telling Sue Callow, whose daughter, Samantha Callow, was killed in a car accident, that she “knew exactly how she felt,” as she herself had lost a child.
Adams said that Clark made promises to families and pressured them to sign complicated contracts. He detailed Clark's alleged fundraising scheme, in which the organization promised to raise money for an entire month for each family, using small donation boxes, solicitation tables at grocery stores, monthly raffles, and donations from local business, both on and off-Cape. The fundraising efforts would culminate in a benefit held at the end of the month. He said that Touched By Angels families were told they would be given 80 percent of funds, while 20 percent would go towards covering TBA's alleged overhead costs. He brought up bank records that will allegedly show that the families did not receive the percentage they were promised. Adams also said that “the evidence will show [that] families did not receive one penny of that raffle money.”
In the beginning of her opening statement, Fund told the jury that her client is “presumed innocent.” She stated feeling that Clark “probably” or “maybe” committed the alleged offenses was “not good enough” to return a guilty verdict, and that the evidence would not provide proof guilt. She said that there will be “plenty” of witnesses, many of them sympathetic, but sympathetic witness testimony does not prove guilt. She instructed the jury in physical evidence and testimonial evidence, and stated that Gina Clark and TBA “recorded everything” and Clark kept everything---such as expenses, receipts, PayPal records, and deposit slips. This evidence will show that TBA and Clark were “not attempting to hide anything,” she said.
Attorney Fund said that the case is “unproven innuendo,” and called attention to the fact that Dawn Hand allegedly worked side-by-side with Clark, setting up events and allegedly speaking almost exclusively with some families, and “she is not on trial.” She also said that Stephen Ledwell (another one of Clark's former employees) purposefully gave out a false social security number on his W-9 form. Regarding other witnesses, Fund said that Clark's/TBA's accountant will show that all employees signed independent contractor agreements,, and the bookkeeper kept all records. Fund concluded by saying that it was “absolutely ridiculous” for the government to bring these “false” indictments.
The trial continues at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, when the government is set to call their first witness.
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