Richard Dawkins Foundation charity victim of alleged embezzlement

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Image via Wikipedia

In 2006, Richard Dawkins hired Josh Timonen to run the website for his organization, the Richard Dawkins Foundation and produce videos for him. And since 2007, Timonen has been doing that.

However, over three years, Timonen reported the website’s online store, the proceeds of which were to go to the foundation, only made $30,000 and “was just squeaking by.” But upon further inspection, Dawkins reported that in actuality, the online store made $375,000 while Timonen made off with 92% of the proceeds.

How does Timonen explain this discrepancy?

According to Timonen’s own records, Dawkins and the Foundation paid Timonen a total of $278,750 in 3½ years – an amount Dawkins calls “exceedingly generous and well above-market for someone of Timonen’s age and experience, particularly for someone providing the bulk of his efforts to a charitable organization.”
Dawkins says Timonen was “24 or 25 years old” when he hired him.

Dawkins says he found out about the scam this year, when the Foundation decided to wrest control of the store from Timonen.
Timonen handed over financial books that detailed his embezzlement, Dawkins says, including $500 meals, trips to Timberline Lodge in Oregon and the Malibu Beach Inn, and $314,000 in “salaries” paid to Timonen and his girlfriend -though Timonen and the Foundation agreed that the $278,000 it was aware of paying him would be his combined salary for running the store and performing his other duties.
Timonen’s “significantly older” girlfriend, defendant Maureen Norton, allegedly used at least $100,000 of the charity’s money to upgrade her Sherman Oaks home before she put it on the market.
A recent real estate listing describes improvements such as a “custom backyard pool and spa area with a wonderful waterfall and glass block fire pit plus custom seating for the ultimate outdoor living and entertaining experience,” according to the complaint.

When Dawkins discovered the embezzlement, he says, Timonen suddenly claimed he owned the intellectual rights to the store’s website, the Foundation logo and the DVDs that he sold through the store.
But Dawkins says anything Timonen created for the Foundation was “a work for hire, commissioned and paid for by plaintiffs.” Dawkins says he and the Foundation own the rights to everything Timonen created for them.

Wow. This kid’s got some balls.

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