UPDATE: Additional allegations surface against local charity

July 1, 2009


Amidst a flurry of questions about how local attorney Eric Parkinson disperses donations earmarked for the needy, his supporters have changed their stories repeatedly to dispute allegations of misappropriations while a reporter in Sri Lanka voices new allegations.

Last week, CalCoastNews reported that Parkinson took out more than 60 percent of monies donated to the VeAhavta nonprofit, a Sri Lanka orphanage and senior care facility Parkinson manages from San Luis Obispo, before sending the remaining monies to a self-declared cleric alleged to have defrauded donors from throughout the world.

Almost immediately, his supporters began posting claims on CalCoastNews.com that contradict what is on their own website; ironically, the website frequently rebuts its own statements.

For example, both VeAhavta’s website and a recent San Luis Obispo Tribune article claim Parkinson is the president of the organization. Parkinson also told CalCoastNews he was administrating the organization from San Luis Obispo. He said that despite all the allegations of fraudulent behavior, he still had faith in Sellathurai Jeyanesan, who Parkinson claimed was continuing to oversee the day to day operations of the orphanage.

However, a handful of VeAhavta volunteers have posted claims that neither Parkinson nor Jeyanesan are overseeing the organization or the orphanage.

Following the Tsunami in late 2004, reports from the group say that the orphanage was seriously damaged, though no children had been injured because of the government’s early warning systems. In another post on their website, VeAhavta officials claim most of the children were away with relatives when the Tsunami struck.

In a February 26 correction, the website says, “The orphanage was indeed damaged, but the damage was only light to moderate(!!!).”

In addition, different reports provide conflicting information about how much of each donation is used for the group’s charitable purpose and who is receiving the funds in Sri Lanka. While the charity’s website stated in 2005 that between 98 to 99 percent of all donations were wired directly to Jeyanesan within hours of their receipt, volunteers are now alleging that funds have never been processed by Jeyanesan, who they now claim does not oversee the group’s orphanage and senior care center.

According to VeAhvata’s 2005 tax return, the group sent between $439,000 of its $595,000 (74 percent) in donations to Sri Lanka for the support of 50 to 70 children, approximately 30 seniors, and a few dozen part-time preschoolers.

An MSNBC report appears to cast these reported expenses under a blanket of doubt.

In 2005, Sri Lankan authorities took over the Ruhunu orphanage after allegations surfaced that a San Diego couple operating the facility were alleging unusually high operating expenses. The couple claimed they required $50,000 in donations to operate the facility annually, according to an MSNBC article.

Providing an example of what it costs to run a charity in this war torn country, MSNBC shared the story of a couple from Washington who operate a youth center and medical facility in Sri Lanka. For approximately $11,000 a year, the center serves 500 to 700 people per month.

According to Parkinson and VeAhvata volunteer Lynn Holland, between 30 to 40 U.S. volunteers support the Grace Care Center by providing administrative assistance from abroad and hands on help during visits of usually one week a year at the orphanage.

Last Friday, while the group’s public relations person, James Mitchell, was spending time at the orphanage, he posted numerous responses rebutting a CalCoastNews article.

About an hour after his last post, one that was refuted by numerous bloggers, someone logged in from the same IP address (the same location) using the name “8” and posted pornographic comments such as, “Heh heh heee I wanna pee on her (a reporter’s) pu–y.”

According to California Penal Code 653m, it is a misdemeanor to contact another person using obscene language through electronic devices. If the communication is construed as a true threat, it can be considered a felony.

“Please accept my apology for the uncivilized comments posted on the web site,” Mitchell said in an e-mail. “Although the person who did it clearly acted inappropriately, he did so out of concern for Mr. Parkinson and the Grace Care Center. I have spoken to him, and this will not happen again.”

A June 30 article in the Sri Lankan Watch questions the ethics of Jeyanesan as well as VeAhavta’s volunteers.

“Some fund organizers in the West also see this as an opportunity for holidays for themselves in exotic surroundings and amidst people who would serve them right royally as servile minions and cater to their proclivities and appetites that may even be questionable.

“It is sad, Eric Parkinson, who keeps over 60% of charity donations for himself, was even compared with Mother Therese. What an insult to the Saint of the Destitutes of Calcutta! She never had the types of Father Jeyanesan on her team; everyone one of hers led an extremely frugal life and were totally dedicated to their cause. And every cent of support they received was transparent and went miles,” according to the Sri Lankan Watch.


One Comment

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: StevenBoothe on 7/17/09
    For all those who may have missed it, Eric soundly repudiated these “allegations” in his interview with Dave Congalton.

    KVEC has even made this interview available in their daily podcast for 07/01/2009. Here is a link to their webpage where you can review nearly all of Dave Congalton’s daily programs via podcast:


    Just scroll down to 07/01/2009. He comes in the last hour of the program.


    Steven Boothe

    By: Saveslocounty on 7/15/09
    The name Parkinson is starting to equate to corruption within our community. Weither fraud or cheating on tests or arresting the wrong guy, that name keeps comming up in a negative light. Better call the fire department to extinguish the blaze they have created.

    By: JorgeEstrada on 7/4/09
    Happy 4th of July, remember?

    By: MyThoughts on 7/2/09
    To Nameless:

    I agree with some of your comments but not the part which suggests that all donors are “suckers”

    Take for instance the stories posted on VeAhavtas own website (newsroom Archive 3)

    Here is the web address


    Many of the people donating were children as indicated in articles I have pasted below.

    These children were simply doing what they could to be good, compassionate citizens. I am sure they believed Parkinson’s promise; that for every dollar raised 98 or 99 cents would go directly to the relief effort.

    We are very pleased to report that the students of Bellevue-Santa Fe Charter School in San Luis Obispo, California, have assembled “Care Kits” and raised a total of $593 for tsunami victims in Sri Lanka.

    The Care Kits and the funds were presented to VeAhavta president Eric Parkinson and VeAhavta’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Rushdi Abdul-Cader, by the school principal Mr. Brian Getz and kindergarten teacher Kathy Foster during an assembly at the school this morning.

    With the assistance of the school staff and Dr. Nisha Abdul-Cader, a local pediatrician and spouse of Dr. Rushdi Abdul-Cader, the children of the school collected and assembled into small backpacks approximately 100 age and gender-appropriate Care Kits containing, among other things, clothing, toiletries, paper and colored pencils. VeAhavta will deliver the kits to the Grace Care Center for distribution sometime within the next 30 days.

    For the fundraising, the students collected change in coffee cans located at different places around the school raising a total of $593.

    Our special thanks to the staff and students of Bellevue-Santa Fe Charter School and to Dr. Nisha Abdul-Cader for their kindness. The children of Grace Home and Grace Daycare will be deeply touched by your kindness. Your love for our children in Sri Lanka sets a wonderful example for us all! Thank you so much.

    We have received a truly heart-warming story about a group of children from San Luis Obispo, California, who heard about the disaster in Sri Lanka and decided to do something to help.

    On January 7, Judy —– wrote: “My two sons have been very concerned about the horrible tragedy left by the Tsunami. A few days ago, Jody —— forwarded me the link to the VeAhavta web site, and I shared it with the boys. Yesterday, they held a hot chocolate and cookie sale with four friends, with all proceeds benefiting your organization. I’m proud to say that they raised $267.19, which I’ve just donated online. All the kids were so happy to feel that they were making a positive difference. And we hope that VeAhavta recovers as quickly as possible. Please let your kids know that there are children here that want to help. I’ve included a picture of the kids, Dan and Bo —–, Anthony and Vincent ——, and Hannalyn and Kyle . Warm Regards, Judy .”

    We are passing your wishes, love and photo onto the children of the Care Center. Thank you so much Dan, Bo, Anthony, Vincent, Hannalyn and Kyle. Your donation and your love and concern for our children in Sri Lanka will brighten their hearts and bring smiles to their faces. May your love remind others that there are no “economic problems” in this world – there is plenty for everyone – there are only problems of the heart. In America we have so much. Are we willing to share out of our abundance so that others can have what they need to survive? Thank you for your beautiful example.

    By: Nameless on 7/2/09
    Without knowing all the details of this fiasco, I know a few things about cost in tohse countries because I was there. A reputable NGO usually pays not more than $500.00 to $600.00 to be on site plus food (inexpensive there). They do deal in cash because thats the only way to get money there. Any organization that pays such a disproportionate amount of money for overhead and expenses is a fraud for sure. But at the same time if people konw about it and willing to depart with their hard earned money its their business. As far as I can see, a sucker is a sucker no matter what. Oh yes, one mopre thing!! Medoff was a very credible operator also.

    By: Scarlet on 7/2/09
    Do you all think Mr. Parkinson got where he is without being smooth and appearing credible? He’s a lawyer!

    He’s able to take money from people in SLO to send 1/2 around the world (where there is little oversight) when we have hungry kids in this very county.

    And about it being “classy” to apologize to Karen about the threatening e-mails: that was a very tricky way of taking that issue off of the table but DOES NOT address the issue of him not being surprised to hear who wrote them and that same person works at his orphanage. If something happened to you, is this where you’d want your children cared for?

    By: Afriendindeed on 7/2/09
    I heard most of the radio interview tonight and I thought Eric Parkinson came across as articulate and credible. I don’t know the man, but he hardly struck me as someone who was greedy or suspicious, just trying to help. He seemed to have a legitimate explanation for every allegation raised against him and I thought it was pretty classy of him to apologize to Ms. Velie for these offensive emails.

    By: Newsome on 7/1/09
    X2 on Cindy. I couldn’t listen to all of Cöngalto, but Parkinson seemed pretty credible to me . . .

    When CCN first broke the story, I sort of wondered, well, WHY? What with Sri Lanka being halfway around the world and all . . .

    Something doesn’t quite add up, from my perspective as an outsider. Either there is more to the story that CCN has not released yet, or there is a witch hunt on this poor guy that ought to stop.

    CCN’s terriering of the guy seems out of proportion with the alleged improprieties, notwithstanding the weirdo/threat postings.

    I do not see a clear nexus. For the sake of Parkinson’s reputation, I hope there is a terrible mistake. For Karen’s credibity, I hope there is not.

    By: Cindy on 7/1/09
    After listening to the Congalton Show tonight, I’m not sure what to think about all this. Every story Karen has ever run has turned out to be the truth and often times worse than she initially let on to. Everyone who she has exposed in the past has always denied and even publicly threatened litigation but Karen has always prevailed and been accurate when all the facts came to light. I don’t know, maybe this could be a first for her. If we take Rev Jey out of the picture considering that he only received $15K during a Tsunami,(there is no proof otherwise that he received additional funds) then it looks like there isn’t much left to be concerned about, apart from the perverse author at the orphanage. I can’t comment on the cost to run the Sri Lanka facility because I just don’t know anything about that country.

    By: CitizenCane on 7/1/09
    I am having trouble wading through this soup.

    Is there anyone in the Sri Lankna or Canadian-Sri Lankan community who can give me some insight?

    By: Al on 7/1/09
    So who gave whom 7 minutes of their time? Karen, it sounds like you cut him off… Just listening to the program, no judgments being made.

    By: Cindy on 7/1/09

    Oh yes Al, I think we all remember when Kelly
    Gearhart made his appearance !

    I’m pleased to hear that Erik will be talking with Dave. I missed all but the tale end of last nights show. I’m really interested in Erik’s position on all this.

    By: Al on 7/1/09
    Will be interesting to hear “the other side of the story”… ahh, remember when Kelly Gearhart made his appearance? Will be listening.

    By: StevenBoothe on 7/1/09

    Eric Parkinson will be on Dave Congalton’s radio show at 6 p.m. tonight. Tune in to 920 AM or listen live at 920kvec.com. I hope you’ll all be able to attend.

    Have a very nice evening,

    Steven Boothe

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