Jail appeals reveal head of Pasco veterans charity has demanded $25,000 from group

NEW PORT RICHEY – As Veterans Alternative staff reorganized to continue serving local veterans struggling to reintegrate into civilian life, the charity’s co-founder Brian Anderson and his wife were plan another action plan.

A series of recordings telephone conversations between Brian and Amy Anderson, which took place between Anderson’s conviction on July 13 for a battery offense and on July 29, when he was sentenced to 120 days in prison, revealed problems who were on Anderson’s spirit as he adjusts to life in the Pasco County Jail.

In a conversation on July 21, Amy Anderson told her husband that she had spoken to Thomas May, then chairman of the charity’s board. Can, she said, had a plan he would soon reveal that would eliminate nearly all of the existing staff and bring the Andersons back in the organization.

Amy Anderson said Pat Fried, then chief operating officer of Veterans Alternative, was a “cancer” who needed to be removed from the organization. Anderson said she would support the “no Patty party” she suggested to May after Fried was fired.

Related: Women tell of allegations of sexual harassment by the head of the Pasco veterans association

Telephone conversations included frequent Brian Anderson’s questions to his wife about the $25,000 he hoped to receive from the Veterans Alternative board. Anderson also gave his wife the names of important public figures he hoped could help him get out of prison. And the calls included details of a plan by Amy Anderson to show up regularly at the workplace of Mariah King, the massage therapist who accused Brian Anderson of inappropriately touching her during a massage session in October last.

King filed a report with New Port Richey police and Anderson was formally charged in March. Just before the case went to trial in July, Anderson stepped down as CEO. Three other women who worked at Veterans Alternative came forward after King filed her complaint with police. They each said Anderson made unwelcome sexual advances on them.

During Anderson’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor Pota Papakos described a phone conversation in the jail in which Amy Anderson said she decided to go to the chiropractic office where King worked. the Tampa Bay Weather asked for a copy of this appeal and others related to the battery case.

During a call, Amy Anderson told her husband that she planned to visit the chiropractor’s office frequently. She said she was already a patient there. “This is my home,” Amy Anderson told her husband, noting that it would be nice if King moved out of town. King, she said, “might just find work elsewhere.”

The question of how much money Anderson had requested from the board came up several times, with Amy Anderson explaining that documentation of expenses had to be provided. In a conversation on July 18, Anderson told his wife to go through a pile of what he called “random” papers on his desk and compare them to a spreadsheet on his computer.

“I don’t have the receipts,” he said, just random paperwork.

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“Okay. Alright,” Amy Anderson replied. “Real receipts, you don’t get anything like that.”

Anderson said he was told he could take information from Facebook and “make cost estimates and it must be around 25,000,” he said.

“Okay,” replied Amy Anderson. “I should guess.”

Several days later, on another call, Anderson again asked his wife about the money. She texted May during the call; May’s response, she said, was that he had just gotten the information and was “working on it and coming back tomorrow with the team.”

May, the former chairman of the board of Veterans Alternative, and vice-chair Patricia Thompson, have both since resigned. While the battery case was ongoing, charity staff hired a lawyer seeking to oust May and Thompson, claiming they had only represented Anderson’s interests. Neither responded to questions about the $25,000 payment.

Fried, now the organization’s acting co-chief executive, told the Time that the previous board had approved the payment, which Anderson said was his initial expenses to start Veterans Alternative before the Chris T. Sullivan Foundation took over funding for the charity.

The current council has chosen not to prevent the processing of the check.

“They decided that in the long run it would probably cost more to challenge it than to leave it as it is,” Fried said.

Janel Norton, who co-founded the organization with Anderson in 2014, said she was unaware that Anderson had set up personal funds to start Veterans Alternative. In fact, Norton said, the group received $5,000 in start-up funds to launch their work and Sullivan arrived soon after and funds began flowing from the foundation.

“I was there from the start and we had nothing,” Norton said.

Fried said the new board is moving the organization forward. Among the priorities ensures that new funds can be secured to continue the work of the charity, particularly in light of the needs now that the war in Afghanistan is over.

During a call, Amy Anderson said she spoke with Sullivan, one of the founders of Outback Steakhouse. Sullivan, she said, told her he would no longer fund Veterans Alternative.

Asked about this statement, Ava Forney, spokesperson for the Sullivan Foundation, said its webmaster was removing the Veterans Alternative logo that appeared on the foundation’s website. website. “We respect the mission of the organization and wish them success,” Forney wrote.

While leading the organization, Anderson had a high profile, even golfing with Governor Ron DeSantis at a fundraiser in 2019. Anderson had more than two dozen letters submitted to court before his July sentencing. former customers, veterans and others. testifying to his good character.

In prison, Anderson pressured his wife to get in touch with anyone who could help him out.

She told her husband that she spoke with Pasco State Senator Danny Burgess, who declined to write a letter but agreed to speak to the judge handling the case, whom he knew. But Anderson said she also needs to ask others for help, including Florida Senate Speaker Wilton Simpson, House Speaker Chris Sprows, Pasco County Commissioners Mike Moore and Kathryn Starkey and Pasco real estate appraiser Mike Wells.

“There are a lot of people that we know and this is a moment where we say please help us,” Anderson said. “I just want to get fk out of jail so I can be with my kids and be with my family.”

Anderson still faces a felony charge for alleged possession of a controlled substance on the day he was convicted of assault and battery. His arraignment on that charge is scheduled for later this month.

Anderson’s attorneys, Shane Vogt and Christopher Blaine, did not respond to requests for comment on the jail conversations.

Times writer Matthew Griffin contributed to this report.

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