Dan Doyle, 64, an Irish American who was deeply involved in peace process work in Northern Ireland and who played a leading role in fundraising for the national basketball stadium in Dublin, has been arrested in the U.S. on charges of embezzling $1 million from his charity.
Doyle is accused by prosecutors of taking more than $1 million in "unauthorized salary increases, bonuses and personal expenses paid for by Institute funds," according to a joint statement issued by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and Col. Steven G.O'Donnell, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
In all he received $5 million in taxpayer funds in past years.
A former basketball coach at Trinity College in Hartford, Doyle was the founder and executive director of the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island.
His official biography also states that “Mr. Doyle was founder and Chairman of the Irish American Sports Foundation, an all-volunteer organization that developed athletic programs for children across Ireland. In 1992, The Irish American Sports Foundation completed construction of Ireland's first multi-purpose sports arena, a $4-million facility located in Dublin. Mr. Doyle was responsible for raising virtually all of the funds for the arena, including a lead gift of $1 million from the Irish government, which he personally negotiated with then Prime Minister Charles Haughey.
“In the mid-1980s, Mr. Doyle successfully coached the Irish Men's National Basketball Team.”
Belfast United, a program started by Doyle in 1989 and run by the Institute, sought to get Catholic and Protestant teenagers to play together on the same basketball team. The Belfast group was profiled in Sports Illustrated.
Doyle hobnobbed with President Clinton, General Colin Powell and many other leading figures and received numerous honorary degrees and was welcomed at the White House.
The indictment accuses Doyle of using false pretenses to get funds from a prominent Rhode Island foundation for a building that was never finished.
Doyle had also obtained a $575,000 grant from the state of Rhode Island for the building, but a state audit could find little trace of the money.
The Institute has now been closed down.
A Longtime supporter Alan Hassenfeld, former head of Hasbro, Inc., told a Rhode Island TV station: "I think Dan Doyle had a dream, a vision. He executed it. And then something went wrong. I don't know what went wrong."
The charges also include allegations that Institute money was used illegally for private camps that Doyle ran and also to run a small publishing house. as well as used for college tuition bills
In total officials say, Doyle is facing seven counts of embezzlement, five counts each of forgery and filing a false document, and one count of obtaining money under false pretenses. Bail was set at $100,000. and he was ordered to hand over his passport.
The Hartford Courant noted that Doyle was “ frequently described as both a charismatic visionary and a reckless self-promoter.”
He founded the institute in 1986 and created the World Scholar-Athlete Games and the World Youth Peace Summit. Speakers included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Powell is quoted on the institute literature as saying “Dan Doyle is on an historic mission for world peace.”