SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The founder of a Rhode Island-based international sport institute ran the nonprofit as a personal piggybank, using it to pay for private school tuition, plastic surgery and other expenses, a prosecutor said Wednesday during the start of Dan Doyle’s embezzlement trial.
Doyle, once a college basketball coach and boxing promoter for Sugar Ray Leonard, founded the Institute for International Sport in 1986 to bring young people together and advance peace through sports and the arts. Now, he is accused of 18 counts, including embezzlement and forgery.
Doyle, 67, of West Hartford, Connecticut, has maintained his innocence. His lawyer, Michael Blanchard, said all the money was accounted for and the evidence would show many of the disputed expenses were authorized.
“If Mr. Doyle is an embezzler, he’s probably the worst embezzler in the history of the world,” he told jurors.
Blanchard dropped the names of some of the high-profile people who had spoken at institute events over the years: former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Nobel Prize winners Desmond Tutu and Elie Wiesel.
Assistant Attorney General Mark Trovato said the case was not an indictment of the institute’s programs, which brought together children from around the world. He said some of the approximately 50 witnesses he planned to call would even describe Doyle as a visionary.
But he said the institute, which was located on the campus of the University of Rhode Island, was run with no oversight. That, he said, allowed Doyle to use the nonprofit’s money to pay himself two salaries and unauthorized bonuses. He said Doyle also used the money to satisfy a pledge to his alma mater, Bates College, pay his child’s tuition at Oberlin College and get reimbursement for his American Express card for expenses, like groceries and his daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner.
Trovato said the institute planned to build a second building on the URI campus and received a quote of $466,500. Doyle then secured $1.2 million in grants from the Rhode Island legislature and from two philanthropists, Alan Shawn Feinstein and Alan Hassenfeld, former CEO of Hasbro Inc., all for the same building, he said.
Years later, the building was never completed and Doyle could account for just $166,000 of the money, Trovato said.
In addition, Doyle is accused of forgery and filing false documents for annual reports that carried signatures purportedly of Hassenfeld and Russell Hogg, former CEO of Mastercard. Trovato said a secretary signed them at Doyle’s direction.
Doyle’s lawyer said Doyle made $1 million as a boxing promoter, most notably for the Leonard and Marvin Hagler bout in 1987. He said Doyle and his family invested hundreds of thousands of their own money to keep the institute afloat. At times, he could not take a salary and had over $200,000 in credit on his cards to pay for institute events, Blanchard said.
For oversight, Doyle relied on Hogg, a longtime board member from the first meeting in Trump Tower in New York in 1987, Blanchard said. Hogg authorized expenses including reimbursement for tuition, he said.
“The real issue for you is intent,” Blanchard told jurors. “The evidence will show there is no criminal intent.”