8000 Morgan Territory Rd. Livermore, CA 94551
firstname.lastname@example.org www.romaniaanimalrescue.com (925) 672-5908
Tax ID: 72-1546354
August 26, 2011
I am Nancy Janes from Romania Animal Rescue, Inc. Romania Animal Rescue worked with ROLDA from January of 2003 until May of 2006. Romania Animal Rescue severed our association with ROLDA and Dana Costin due to lack of accountability for funds in 2006, as well as lack of cooperation and interest of Dana Costin for the welfare of Galati animals.
2001 – I became very concerned about the issue of animal welfare in Romania following a hiking tour of the country in 2001. I vowed to many in Romania at that time that I would do something to help the animals. I returned to the USA and found that none of the organizations and charities that I donated to would help the Romanian animals. My husband suggested that I find someone online who would have the same passion for the Romanian animals as I had. I found ROLDA on the internet. My association with ROLDA and Dana Costin/Rolando Cepraga began in 2002. (ROLDA – Rolando and Dana)
2002 – My husband Rory and I began sending personal funds to ROLDA to purchase a van, and to help them build their shelter in 2002.
2003 – My husband and I flew to Romania and met Dana and Rolando. Things seemed fine, and we purchased dog houses and gave them additional personal funds for building the shelter.
Also in 2003, I started Romania Animal Rescue as a registered 501 (c) 3 charity to raise funds in the USA to help ROLDA and other Romanian charities.
RAR set up a bank account in the USA at Citibank and gave Dana Costin an ATM card so that she could use it to get RAR donations out as she needed them for animal and shelter needs. RAR did advertising and promoting of their work here in the USA, and basically were the US extension of ROLDA. Dana was to send receipts to me twice a year, and I would then have my accountant add the total of the Romanian lei costs and convert that into US dollars.
2004 – Rory and I joined Dana at the HSUS/HSI EXPO conference in Florida. There we met Paul Seigel, the man that is now the paid ROLDA fundraiser. I ran into a number of Romanian friends that had charities at this conference and when Dana saw me speaking with them she was very angry with me.
Later in the year, Rory and I went to Romania again and stayed at the ROLDA cottage at the shelter. Dana was always our translator. We had no means of transportation into town (about 6 miles from Galati in Smardan). One day we walked into Galati and met an English speaker who took us around the city. When Dana found out she was extremely upset with us. We thought this was odd ……why didn’t she want us to speak to people in Galati? Plans we made to speak with Rotarians in Galati were thwarted by Dana as well. She failed to pick us up at the cottage for the meeting at which we were to make our presentation of the possibility of help from Rotary in Livermore to Rotary in Galati.
Merritt Clifton (now ROLDA US Trustee), his wife and his son were in Romania and came to the ROLDA shelter and to meet Dana, Rolando, Rory and myself. We traveled with them and our guide Claudiu Iosim, from Animed Arad Association, to visit a few shelters in Romania. ( Please see Rory Janes Testimonial for details from this time period.)
2005 – Rolando became very ill.
I was becoming very concerned because there was no accountability of the funds that were being taken out of the RAR account by ROLDA from January – August of 2005, totaling over $24,000, (actually more but we are missing the bank statement) although I had asked Dana for these repeatedly.
In September of 2005 there was an animal welfare conference called “CHAMPS” in San Diego, Calif. Dana wanted to go and insisted on bringing Rolando as well, despite his severe illness. Rory and I did some research and found that we could get Rolando into Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, for a diagnosis and hopefully some treatment for his undiagnosed condition.
During the CHAMPS conference in San Diego, Dana and Merritt Clifton discretely left the conference and went to the beach. They left behind Merritt’s wife who was attending the conference and Rolando, who was lying extremely ill in his and Dana’s hotel bed. (Merritt wrote to me a few weeks later that he and Dana had kissed while together on the beach. I knew he was infatuated with Dana but was only now finding out to what extent). Following this meeting of Merritt and Dana at the CHAMPS conference, Merritt and his then wife began discussing ,with me, Dana Costin and the effect she was having on their marriage. Soon thereafter, Merritt and his wife got a divorce. Although Costin denies any involvement in the break-up of Merritt’s 15 year marriage, evidence is to the contrary. (Please see page about Merritt Clifton)
Following CHAMPS, a report from Ana Hamelganu (sic) from Romania hit the internet, claiming that RAR was working with ROLDA to embezzle funds. I could not believe what I was reading – I was devastated! I knew ROLDA was not a registered charity in Romania, but this was not an issue for my charity as we are able to help individuals and groups regardless of whether they are registered in Romania or not. I did not believe Ana’s claims because there were many things wrong in her statement, such as saying that Dana and Rolando lived at the shelter in the cottage, that RAR had used Neutersol on the dogs in Galati, etc. I also knew that I was not money laundering, and I trusted Dana Costin as I had never trusted anyone else before. I believed that without Dana, the animals in Galati would suffer.
Dana then submitted receipts to me for the expenses of September of 2005 (still no submission of receipts from Jan – Aug of 2005), and I could see for myself with the little Romanian that I knew that these receipts showed that Dana was using animal funds for personal expenses. At this point I wrote a letter of resignation from working with ROLDA to the RAR Board of Directors.
Shortly after this letter of resignation, Rolando died, and I felt for Dana and for the dogs – what would happen to the animals without Rolando’s help? So I went to Romania to be with Dana, get her registered as a charity, and began to support her again. I decided I would give her another chance.
I had also decided to hire someone in Galati to receive the receipts from Dana and translate them for me. Dana was livid. I hired Ralu, the niece of a friend of mine here in California who lived in Galati, and instructed Dana to give the receipts collected to Ralu for review and then I would get the receipts from Ralu when I returned to Romania the following April for our spay/neuter event in Galati.
2006 – In March of 2006, I arranged to send Dr. Ileana Gheoghita to the Mayhew Animal Home in the UK for training on mass spay/neuter skills as I knew we needed to plan for the upcoming spay event in Galati as best we could. Dana told me that she would need to go as well to be the translator for Dr. Ileana at the Mayhew. I agreed to let Dana accompany Dr. Ileana as her translator. Upon their arrival at Mayhew, Dana asked if she could use the computer at the Mayhew, and they told Dana “of course”. Dana got into their mailing list of donors and stole the list. ( I received a phone call in May of 2006 from Joy Lee, then with the Mayhew Animal Home in London, telling me of this theft). Dana then took off to visit a man in the UK (see Mr. A) whom she had been communicating with over the death of his friend, and comparing this to Rolando’s death and her loss. By his own admission to me, Dana had seduced Mr. A. Please see the story about the deception by Dana to swindle Mr. A out of thousands upon thousands of British Pounds.
Dana had requested that we do a massive spay event in Galati for about 9 months prior to this actual event in April. My responsibility was to get the funds for the spay/neuter of animals and to get a US vet to travel to Romania to help with the spay/neuter. Our goal was to spay/neuter 200 stray street dogs in Galati. I was the funds collector, and Dana’s self-appointed responsibility was to arrange to have dog catchers bring the dogs to Dr. Ileana’s clinic, have a recovery area for them, have the supplies needed for the animals, food, etc. Hotel arrangements for Dr. Olson were to be made by Dana, and although I had suggested that Dr. Olson be met in Bucharest by a taxi and take the train to Galati, Dana insisted that she would meet herupon arrival in Bucharest at the airport.
I got a grant from SPANA in the UK for $18,000 to do spay/neuter in Galati with ROLDA. An arrangement was also in place with a film crew (Schnuffie) from Burbank, Calif. To document the plight of the Romanian street dogs along with the Spay/Neuter event. Loretta Swit had agreed to come along asthe narrator for the documentary. Finally we thought we would have an opportunity to introduce theworld to the plight of the Romanian animals.
In April of 2006, Dr. Olson arrived at the airport to be picked up by Dana Costin and taken to Galati (4 hours away). Dana was a no-show at the airport in Bucharest, although receipts show that she was in Bucharest at McDonalds before the arrival of the flight ,taking funds from the RAR bank account with her ATM card. Dr. Olson took a taxi to Braila (at the cost of $200). Dana waited 4 DAYS before picking her up from Braila, which is a city located close to Galati. I arrived in Galati a couple of days later.
Upon visiting Dr. Ileana’s clinic, where the spay event was to be held, Dr. Olson and I realized that there were NO supplies for s/n, NO dogs, NO dog catchers, NO recovery area – NOTHING had been planned or prepared by Dana, although some of the funds for the supplies were already missing from the bank account and Dana was getting harder and harder to locate. The ROLDA shelter was a mess, no preparation for the documentary crew had been done – Dr. Olson and I were cleaning and disinfecting the filthy kennels where the dogs were being kept.
The Schnuffie Crew and Loretta Swit were due to arrive in Bucharest in a couple of days. I asked Dana (via email!) if she had hired a van or bus for them as she had said she would, and she said she had not. I went around Galati trying to find a van that I could hire, eventually ending up at a travel agency and hiring a bus to pick up the Crew and Ms.Swit. I told Dana that I would be severing our working relationship after the documentary crew left, but that she had best be around while they were there if she wanted to help the Galati dogs.
I went to Bucharest to pick up the Crew and Ms. Swit. Dana met us in Bucharest. We traveled back to Galati to begin our work. Slowly Dana started disappearing. She took the ROLDA van away from us so we could not get dogs to take in for spay and neuter! (please see Dr. Olson’s testimonial) We finally hired a van from the Maxi-Taxi people for $100 per day to help us transport dogs to Dr. Ileana’s clinic for spay/neuter.
At this point we had stopped working with Loretta Swit because she had wanted to have creative control of the documentary from Schnuffie, and they refused. Ms. Swit then told me I would have to call her agent in the USA and arrange to pay her a salary to narrate the documentary for us. Since she had agreed previously to be a volunteer for the documentary, I told her no, we would not pay her as we could not afford to do so, and I took her to the hotel where she stayed until her departure back to the USA a few days later. The evasive Dana met up with Ms. Swit in Galati and took her to the ROLDA shelter for photo ops with the animals.
Dana virtually abandoned all the film crew, and most importantly, her job of getting dogs for the spay event. Funds that had been granted to us by SPANA for s/n were disappearing from the bank account…..Dana was going to the ATM machine and withdrawing large sums of money. I called my husband in the USA and he put a fraud alert on the card, and Dana was stopped from taking any more of the s/n funds. I emailed SPANA and told them Dana/ROLDA had been taking the funds and that there was $10,000 left in the account. I told them I would give them back the $18,000 they had donated to us, $10,000 from the account and $8000 from my personal money. SPANA told me to keep the remaining $10,000 and use it for RAR spay/neuters in the future, which I did.
We hired a translator in Galati since Dana was nowhere to be found. Once we hired the translator – the truth came out……..and this Golden Opportunity to help the Romanian animals was ruined solely by Dana Costin.
I was finally able to talk to Dr. Ileana. Always before Dana had been my translator in Galati. Dana told Dr. Ileana that I did not like her and she told me that Dr. Ileana did not like me. Well, come to find out Dana had been lying to me for a long time. Dr. Ileana showed me her records for s/n for ROLDA that RAR had been paying for. Dana had claimed that 1200 dogs had been s/n, but as the records proved, only 352 had actually been s/n. Where had all the money for s/n that I sent her go?
Costin claimed that another vet had done the rest of the spays/neuters. I checked with every vet in Galati – and found that vet – Dr. Georgescu – who had done 7 s/n for ROLDA. Dana had been lying to all of us. I emailed Merritt Clifton, at that time a friend of mine and fellow supporter of ROLDA. At first he was devastated, but within 2 days was fully recovered and defending Dana. (Please see the page about Merritt Clifton)
I had decided to quit working in Romania altogether, and told this to Dr. Ileana. I was ready to go home and forget the whole thing. After a night of discussing things with Dr. Olson, I realized that the ANIMALS needed RAR, and that I could not turn my back on them. So I began doing s/n work with RAR in Galati, and then moved to other cities as well.
Now I also had all the translated receipts……and was horrified to see what these revealed. There were receipts submitted for food, luxury items, and even receipts where the list of purchased items had been deliberately cut off, so that Ralu, my Romanian translator, could not see what the animal funds were used for. (please see list of receipts submitted to RAR)
Upon my return to California I decided to block Dana Costin from my email list. Well, as I went to block her (I had never blocked anyone before), I noticed a list of charities in Romania that had been blocked. Animed Arad, Nature Heritage for the Future, Daisy Hope and others had been blocked from my email list so that I could not hear from these charities. I realized that Dana Costin had done this to my computer while she was here in 2005 with Rolando (when he was going to Stanford Medical Center). She did not want me to help anyone else. I had written emails to many charities to see if RAR could be of help to them, but never heard back. Now I knew why.
I contacted our donors and told them that RAR would no longer work with ROLDA. I contacted the international organizations that had sponsored our work and told them RAR was no longer working with ROLDA.
I contacted Dana and Merritt and told them that I needed the receipts for April and May of 2006 for the funds Dana had taken from the RAR bank account. They both refused to give them to me. Merritt told me he had them (although RAR was entitled to them since the funds were from the RAR account), and that I “micro-managed” Dana. The receipts for December 2005, January 2006, February 2006 and March 2006 that had been given to Ralu were all cut-off so that Ralu could not read what the funds were being spent on…… Dana claims that she received no money from Romania Animal Rescue in January and February of 2006 (see her documents that were sent to Merritt for 2006 accounting). In fact RAR bank records show that she took $4025.26 in January, $3468.97 in February, $4983.71 in March, $2879.27 in April, and $3974.23 in May before her access to the account was blocked on May 10. In total $19151.44 was missing and unaccounted for from the RAR bank account in Jan – May 2006, and over $24,000 in 2005 (we are unable to locate the August 2005 bank statement…..). Now if you can please see the receipt samples from 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 where funds were being taken and used for personal expenses by Dana Costin. You can see only some of the extent of damage done by Dana Costin – and this is only a sample of the receipts and bank statements, and just RAR’s experience, and we were not her only supporters at the time. Donors in the UK had been told that they in fact had donated the funds to build the little ROLDA shelter – the same thing that we were told. The damage to the animals’ welfare in Galati by Dana Costin and ROLDA had become completely apparent to me. How many animals had been born to live a miserable life due to the thefts of Dana Costin?
In the summer of 2006, I was contacted by a very wealthy man in the UK (Mr. A) who asked me where a donation of $100 for ROLDA had gone. I told him that I no longer worked with ROLDA, and since Dana did not give me the accounting for all the money she withdrew from the RAR account in April and May, I would not give her any more money. I told him that she had stolen funds from RAR for personal use. Well, this man, Mr. A, having been seduced by Dana, was quite smitten with her. He told me he was going to sue me for defamation of Dana Costin’s character. His attorney in the UK sent me a letter demanding that I cease and desist. I wrote a letter to the attorney as well as to ROLDA saying that I would not talk about ROLDA or Costin anymore, but I thought that I could not be sued for telling the truth. Around this same time Mr. A was convinced by Dana Costin that she needed 60,000 British Pounds(approximately $97,800) to purchase land in Galati. The story is told best by him on the website (see Mr. A). The land was owned by Tudor Ciprian and Dana told Mr. A that he could purchase and own the land. His intention was to own the land and lease it to ROLDA. He sent Dana the funds to purchase the 15,000 sq. meters of property for the 60,000 GBP (approximately $97,800).
Shortly thereafter Dana contacted Mr. A in the UK telling him that she had been in a car accident with a “friend’s BMW”. Mr. A wanted to go to Galati to be with Dana, who claimed to be badly injured, but got no response from her. He was getting suspicious of Dana at this point, and hired a Private Detective to go to Galati and see if I was telling him the truth about Dana Costin. The Private Detective found that not only had I been telling the truth to Mr. A about Dana, but that Dana had not had a car accident at all. The photo of the ruined BMW that Dana had sent to Mr. A was from an auto accident a couple of years back, and those people did not know of or ever hear of Dana Costin.
Now, Mr. A wanted to get his 60,000 pounds back, but Dana refused. ( Needless to say, my former “Letter of Apology” was null and void now that Mr. A knew that I had indeed been telling him the truth). Shortly thereafter it was found that Dana’s boyfriend was Tudor Ciprian, the supposed owner of the land, and that Dana, by her own records, submitted that she had in fact paid Tudor Ciprian 4300 Romanian LEU for the land (approximately $1400). Where had the rest of the 60,000 GBP (or $97,000.00+) gone? Mr. A hired a Romanian lawyer to go over the case, but found that it would take 3 – 4 years of court battles in Galati to sue Dana Costin, and he never wanted to see or have anything to do with her again, so he did not sue her. This long court battle process that would be in Galati is one of the reasons a number of people have not sued Dana Costin.
Shortly thereafter Merritt Clifton started ROLDA USA, a 501 (c) 3 charity to raise funds for Dana Costin in the USA, knowing full well of all these events. He claims he did not believe me, but the evidence was there. Even Dr. Olson wrote to tell him of Dana’s cons…….he said he did not believe her either. I offered Merritt frequent flyer airline miles to travel to Galati with me and see the truth – he refused. I offered to go to Washington state where Merritt lives to take a lie-detector test in front of him – he refused.
2007 – In February of 2007 I returned to Galati to meet with Dr. Ileana and do spay/neuter work. Dr. Ileana is a fine surgeon that has been trained on how to perform excellent spay/neuter surgeries by Dr. Jennifer Scarlett of RAVS and by Dr. Jeanne Olson, both sent by Romania Animal Rescue to work with her in Galati.
I learned that Dana had ceased helping Mr. Cenac to feed his over 210 dogs at the no-kill city shelter, even though she had a contract to do so and was still claiming to be helping him on her website. My translator also told me that ROLDA had started a ROLDA pension (boarding facility for pay) to turn their non-profit shelter, built with funds from donors to RAR and others, into a business to make money. I heard an ad on the radio for the shelter, and saw a banner advertising it while on a walk in Galati. So Dana now was using ROLDA donor funds to start a business for money…….
I went to meet with Mr. Cenac and he told me about the fact that Dana had abruptly stopped paying the bills for food for his dogs a few months back. He had a stack of bills with ROLDA’s stamp on them that had not been paid (even though as I knew she had just stolen almost $100,000 from Mr. A alone – not to mention the funds she had taken from RAR!), and he was trying to pay the bills on his meager wage.I went with Mr. Cenac to pay the ROLDA debt for his dogs food so that he could get more food for his dogs to Diablo, the food broker. I told him RAR could only finance $200 a month for his dogs – but I would try to get a donor in the USA to help supplement this, which I did (and eventually we got an ongoing donation of shipments of dog food for his dogs from Holland – thank goodness!).
2009 – The current fundraiser for ROLDA, Paul Seigel, called me to ask some questions about rumors he had heard about ROLDA. ROLDA had recently tried to hire Paul so that his company would solicit the 25,000 best animal welfare donors in the USA through US mail at the cost of approximately $15,000 a year for ROLDA. I told Paul of my experience with ROLDA. Paul talked with Dana who of course told him I was lying, etc. Paul eventually went to Romania to meet with Dana. I had advised him that he should hire a translator, and that he should use the element of surprise, which of course he did not do. Paul saw what Dana wanted him to see – the 2 supposed ROLDA shelters that needed funding and happy healthy dogs. Paul agreed to become the Direct Marketing fundraiser for ROLDA.Was Paul, an ethical Direct Mailing Systems agent, aware that the 2nd shelter, the one that houses 500-600 dogs, was and is fully funded by Arcelor Mittal since they built it in 2007? Probably not. Like most of ROLDA donors, I believe Paul was under the impression that Dana needs funds to provide food and care for these 500-600 dogs, but this is simply not true.
For $15,000 a year many dogs could be spayed/neutered in Galati, or these funds could actually go to help the dogs at the Fiducia Shelter, but ROLDA has chosen to use this money to get more money.
2010 – Dana Costin called me in August to ask that I not tell people about my experience with her. I asked her if she would start telling her donors the truth, to which she did not reply. I told her “I will try not to tell people about you if they do not ask me, but only if you will tell your donors the truth”. She said to me “I will tell you the truth” (not the donors). I said OK – good-bye – and it was confirmed to me once again that she has no intention of telling anyone the truth.
In closing I would like to say that I am just like you – an animal lover who believed with all my heart and soul in ROLDA and the “ROLDA Dream”. I worked with Dana Costin for almost 4 years, and over and over tried my best to find the animal lover that she claimed to be, but I never could.
In going over the ROLDA website, you will see many skewed statements and “facts”. Photos of happy volunteers and testimonials come to mind. Many of these people found that Costin was a con artist, such as myself, Rory, Maureen, Sharon, Chrissy and Janet, Stephanie, Anja, Susan, Ross (the Peace Corp volunteer for RAR) and Siri, yet Dana still posts them on her site as if they approve of her and her “work”.
Nancy Janes – Romania Animal Rescue