|Krol Says Money Story a 'Political Hit Piece,' Will Seek Legal Action|
|By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff|
11:55AM / Thursday, September 21, 2023
|Mayoral candidate John Krol at the preliminary debates earlier this month. Krol is calling a report about misused funds from a local nonprofit a political hit piece. |
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayoral candidate John Krol says he will be seeking legal action for defamation after The Berkshire Eagle reported allegations that he stole $6,800 from Animal Dreams.
He called the story an "absolute unadulterated political hit piece" and placed the fault on Greylock Federal Credit Union for a "banking mistake" which is apparently resolved.
Krol took to Facebook Live to rebut the allegations late Wednesday night and said he would be contacting an attorney as early as that evening for a defamation case in regards to the article.
"The timing as such is clearly designed to derail our campaign and to take me out politically," he said in a video posted about an hour after the story came out.
"And what's worse, is a hit not only politically but it's going after my reputation professionally, personally, and in every way, shape, and form."
Krol said he was informed of the "breaking story" while at his son's soccer practice Wednesday night and given less than an hour to respond. The article was posted on the newspaper's website Wednesday evening and emailed to subscribers at 9:10 p.m.
Stacey Carver, leader of nonprofit cat rescue Animal Dreams, went to The Eagle this week with text messages, bank statements, and email exchanges she said showed $6,800 was taken from the nonprofit's account through five separate transfers in 2019.
She traced the deductions and found that they were payments on Krol's credit card. At the time, he was no longer a director on the board of Animal Dreams but still had access to its bank account, Carver told The Eagle.
"I just want to make it very clear as far as the allegation that's being made, the allegation is the idea of, 'stealing money,' that could not be further from the truth," Krol said, adding his was "mortified."
"And it goes back like this is something that was resolved four years ago and it was something that occurred starting eight years ago and all of this information has been out there. It's been dealt with and yet, we're hearing about it now, finally, today, just for the timing of the politics."
The mayoral candidate served on the board from 2013 to 2018 and had been an officiary of the account.
In his rebuttal, Krol said the issue stemmed from the bank mistaking account numbers, alleging that the credit union often makes this mistake. The Eagle posted screenshots of texts between Krol and Carver in which Krol texts that "Also, I found out what happened. Greylock gave me the wrong router number at one point."
"Often with Greylock, sometimes people have told me this, that there's sometimes trouble when it comes to the account numbers, and sometimes they get mixed up so it was always important for me to specifically get the correct account number when I was doing business as it related to my business," he said.
"So I had a credit card that I was looking to pay off, it was a credit card that I use for business purposes, and I specifically asked the individual at Greylock for the correct account number and routing number and that number was provided to me. So, lo and behold, it was the incorrect number and I have the email proof to back that up. I have that documentation."
In June 2019, Carver contacted a seemingly shocked Krol about the situation. The next month, Krol sent a check for $750 and said there were arrangements to pay the rest in a week or two.
The arrangements apparently came through the intervention of Allen Harris, Carver's ex-husband and co-founder of Berkshire Money Management. Harris told The Eagle he had provided Krol with $6,800, of which $6,100 was paid to Animal Dreams.
Harris told The Eagle that it was not a gift and that Krol never worked off his debt through his marketing and media company. Krol said there was no understanding that it needed to be paid back and that Harris came to him.
"Allen Harris then reached out to me via email, and said, 'Look, I have something for you. Call me in my office,' and so I did and so Allen offered to pay the balance of that and it was really important to him also to make sure that, Stacey was not aware that this was happening. He didn't want Stacey to know about it," Krol said.
"But he gave that check to me, which then, in turn, I gave a check to Animal Dreams and so that's exactly what occurred. There was no understanding that that dollar amount needed to be paid back. Although, if Allen Harris ever asked me to do work on his behalf, for Berkshire Money Management, of course I would have said yes but he never asked me to do any work."
He said that to this day, he would be happy to do work for through his marking business, OneEighty Media, to pay the debt back to Harris.
Carver, reached on Thursday morning, said she stood by her statements.
"And yes, Animal Dreams was paid back, but not from his pocket," she wrote. "He's never paid Berkshire Money Management back or provided any work for the $6,800 Allen gave him to make AD whole."
Krol claimed that the piece was in an effort to "knock this guy out and let the status quo walk right in with no recourse." He also pointed to Carver and Harris' support of his opponent Peter Marchetti, as she donated around $52 to his campaign and Harris donated $1,000.
"At this point, I want to tell you that we've spoken to an attorney this evening and we are certainly seeking legal action regarding defamation," Krol said.
"And that's something that will be happening the next some days, it may happen as soon as tomorrow morning that we're going to take action on this because because it's not right."
He reported getting a call from The Eagle around 6:15 p.m. with a 7:15 p.m. deadline to respond and said this is an indication that the story was "lined up and ready to go" the day after the preliminary election that put him and Marchetti as the top candidates.
"The timing of the story clearly is very, very much associated with politics," Krol said.
"That four years later, after something was resolved and again, this was a paid debt that was paid in 2019 and it was clear that we all were to move on from that situation and never once in the four years between then and now, have I ever heard an allegation from Stacey Carver or from Allen Harris, until just recently, that they will consider this as wrongdoing."
Carver and Harris also claimed that Krol was paid for a year's worth of advertising on "The John Krol Show," Krol's live video Facebook podcast, but he then "skipped town," referencing his 2019 move to the Boston area to work for Benchmark Senior Living. Berkshire Money Management had been a major sponsor of the program.