Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs In New Jersey announced that Dina Alborano, who operated an unregistered horse rescue called ICareIHelp will cease collecting donations and pay civil penalties totaling $5,000.
According to the report Alborano and her ICareIHelp thoroughbred rescue organization used the internet and social media platforms to solicit charitable contributions for the purported purpose of saving former racehorses from the slaughterhouse. In 2018, ICareIHelp accepted more than $330,000 in donations via PayPal and personal checks. In 2017, the organization took in $12,000.
An investigation launched revealed, among other things, that ICareIHelp has never been registered as a charitable organization with the Division, as required by law.
The Division also determined that between November 2017 and December 2018, $344,290 in donations were commingled in personal accounts controlled by Alborano and a man with whom she lives.
The Division alleges that Alborano and I Care I Help solicited contributions for a purpose other than the charitable purpose expressed, and expended contributions in a manner inconsistent with the charitable purpose, in violation of the New Jersey Charitable Registration and Investigation Act and the regulations governing charitable fundraising.
“So many charities in New Jersey do incredible work to serve good causes,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Unfortunately, a small number of bad actors exploit donors’ good intentions in order to pocket charitable contributions for themselves. Our Division of Consumer Affairs enforces our charities laws to give potential donors confidence that their donations will be used as advertised, so that donors can give to charitable organizations generously and confidently.”
View entire settlement here.
ICareIHelp Donors Duped
“Donors were led to believe that the money they contributed to I Care I Help would be used to purchase thoroughbred horses bound for the slaughterhouse and pay for the animals’ care while they awaited adoption into permanent homes,” said Howard Pine, Acting Director of the Division. “Instead, donor funds were funneled into bank accounts controlled by Alborano and an acquaintance and it’s unclear from the records kept just how much of that money was actually used for rescuing horses.”
As part of the settlement, Alborano agreed to pay civil penalties of $5,000. She has also represented that all funds possessed by ICareIHelp when it was shut down – approximately $17,000 – have been donated to a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Ms. Alborano is also permanently barred from holding a leadership position within, or soliciting contributions for, any New Jersey charity.
ICareIHelp gained momentum after a glowing article about the so-called rescue appeared in Bloodhorse, written by Steve Haskin, who did a horse racing podcast with Alborano.
Black n Gold believed to be among the dead in icareihelp aftermath; he was emaciated and the last TB videoed in late 2018 by concerned neighbour. Very little chance he survived. https://t.co/2Z14TX8DhY
— WesternCanadianOTTB (@WestCanOTTB) January 14, 2020
After reports in the Paulick Report called Chicken Houses And Horse Rescue: A Complicated Tale on April 11, 2018 and by the National Thoroughbred Welfare Association called The Battle for Louisiana: Dina Alborano and Horses at Risk on Aug. 29, 2018, Bloodhorse pulled the Haskin article and replaced it with an explanation of why it was taken down.
Haskin attempted to explain in the replaced posting.
“Somehow this situation has gotten completely out of hand between these two factions (I Care I Help and the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization).I just don’t understand this because everyone is trying to do good, everybody is working for a common cause, and now it has become too ugly and hostile and counterproductive.”
Haskin then deleted his Twitter account.
Kevin Cox, a handicapper that appeared in the short-lived television show Horseplayers also promoted the charity, despite the fact ICareIHelp was not a registered member of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance or a registered charity.
To my knowledge Cox never explained why he promoted the unregistered charity and blocked those on Twitter seeking an explanation. Others including trainers and owners were also duped by Alborano.
Kevin Cox @brooklyncowboy1 & Dina Alborano @icareihelp @DinaLiveRadio Both Fabulous in their Thoroughbred Aftercare Efforts,jumpstart Tonight’s 8PM Radio Show! https://t.co/fFayfMSNX9 switching leads(619-924-0802)Mr.Cox,fresh off a $98 Top Winner,and a Flat Net Profit at Spa Meet pic.twitter.com/fD3LpNPUcK
— Horse Racing FanSite (@HorseRaceSite) August 23, 2018
Hal Parker, who had formerly worked for a kill pen and who was reportedly taking care of the rescued horses on behalf of ICareIHelp was arrested in February of 2019 on charges that included simple cruelty of animals, aggravated cruelty to animals and theft of livestock according to the NTWO website.
Police in Union Parish, La. charged Parker with two additional felony animal cruelty charges in May of 2019, bringing the number of charges to a dozen.
The ICareIHelp website added this recently:
icareihelp is no longer actively rescuing, as we are no longer accepting donations. This website is dedicated to the eight months in which we activlely saved over 100 horses in kill lots from slaughter and rehomed each and every one of them with no adoption fee. Thank you to everyone who has been part of our journey and our organization.
(Their spelling and grammar are just as bad as their rescue efforts).
It is unfortunate that Albarano was not criminally charged, but at least her cohort Parker was, and now officially exposed by the authorities her days of running an illegitimate horse rescue have ended.