September 12, 2019
How the IRS helped Geoffrey Hermanstorfer attempt to gain custody of the child he shares with former Kurt Busch girlfriend and veteran charity director, Patricia Driscoll.
The following accounts a yearlong investigation by SteelTruth™ into the government misconduct case of Patricia Driscoll. We all know the IRS has been weaponized against political groups and individuals over the years. When you can’t pin someone to a crime, you can always find something wrong with their taxes. During the Congressional hearings conducted by then Rep. Darryl Issa (R-CA), we learned that Lois Lerner (head of the IRS) and her hit squad destroyed hundreds of lives of Conservatives and largely dismantled the Tea Party Organization. I bet you’d never think they’d go as far as using a custody battle to try to help a vicious ex-husband steal a child from his mother. Well they did.
No matter what side of the aisle you are on, this story should turn your stomach, because this literally could happen to any of us. The government misconduct and conspiracy in the case of USA vs Driscoll runs wide and deep.
Two agents from the IRS and FBI testified in federal court that they called their supervisors over the holiday weekend to allow them to start looking into this vanity case after reading the ESPN article. According to the testimony of Agents Robert Valdini and Timothy Lynch, they ignored and failed to disclose to their supervisors in their memos the obvious bias and motivations behind the people making the allegations. By all appearances they had made up their minds from the beginning as to Driscoll’s guilt.
USA vs Driscoll goes to show you that If the government wants to get you, they will. During the trial it is uncovered that the IRS investigating Agent, Robert Valdini, and the DOJ Prosecutor overseeing this investigation, Virginia Cheatham, lied to the grand jury about evidence they knew to be false. The IRS agent testified that Driscoll made up an event on the foundations tax return, claiming that she falsley reported taking wounded troops to an Orioles baseball game. However, the event in fact did occur and the DOJ had been given evidence of its validity by TNT who filmed the event and televised it during a NASCAR broadcast. The DOJ had received a copy of the video of the Oriole/troop outing 1 month prior to Agent Valdini’s grand jury appearance. Evidence of this event was also easily found in a Google search.
The DOJ wanting to pile on charges against Driscoll, alleged that Driscoll interfered with an IRS investigation. They did this despite the testimony of their own witness, a 20 year seasoned non profit investigator, IRS Agent Kenneth Roton, who testified that he had no interaction with Driscoll while conducting an AFF Audit in late 2014/early 2015. In fact, during the 80 hour audit, Driscoll was out of the country. Agent Roton claims that he only spoke to and worked with the foundation auditor and book keeper and gave the foundation and Driscoll a clean bill of health just months before the DOJ decided to investigate Driscoll again after the Busch assault. The FBI and IRS agents who investigated Driscoll and ultimately brought charges against her, testified that they were not experts in nonprofits nor nonprofit tax returns, and none of these agents had an accounting degree nor a background in taxes. In fact the government never presented a tax expert during trial that had looked at the foundations or Driscoll’s taxes.
It took the prosecution over six months of grand jury proceedings to get charges brought against Driscoll, but you have to wonder if you were sitting on this grand jury if these false stories were finally the straw that broke the camel’s back. Driscoll was indicted on 8 federal charges as a result of these proceedings including tax evasion, wire fraud (emailing the tax returns for review to the AFF board), mail fraud (mailing the tax return), fraud (essentially publishing an administrative rate that the government believes to be false), and interfering with an IRS investigation.
Judge Richard J. Leon from all appearances hated this case from the beginning. As Judge Leon, sarcastically remarked about the agent enthusiasm to go after Driscoll, “This is the BIG WHITE WHALE. EVERYONE wants the BIG WHITE WHALE. THIS IS MOBY DICK”. He told the government that this case was “overcharged and over tried”. He repeatedly asked the prosecution to drop charges before and throughout the trial and the DOJ refused. Judge Leon accused the government of “piling on charges” to try to justify all of the money they spent to get “their pelts”. Leon ultimately dismissed three of these charges leaving Driscoll with 5 charges to fight by mid trial. Charges dismissed during a trial by a judge are rare.
Leon angrily charged the DOJ with providing a mountain of uses less paper, some that had writing so small that it was “the size of an ants body”. Leon told the prosecutor to “go buy 12 magnifying glasses for the jury” because they would never be able to read any of the data. Judge Leon went on to say that “You’re overwhelming them (jury); you’re overwhelming this Court. You’re treating this like it’s the case of the century, for God’s sake.” He went on to compare this case to the AT&T merger trial he had just completed stating that it was unfair to drown the jury in useless paper to make it appear that by volume of paper Driscoll was guilty of something without the jury being able to evaluate most of it. Leon said, “You guys have tons of paper---tons that will never be read by any jury. Never be read. It will never be read.”
The judges warning of drowning jurors in paperwork came to fruition. During the six-week trial, the government literally put some jurors to sleep. According to some court observers and an Army Veteran, Marion Carlton, “I watched the jurors fall asleep as Prosecutors presented their evidence. This woman’s freedom is at risk, her son could be without his mother, and they’re asleep. Most of them didn’t take notes on this complex tax case. I can tell you, this wasn’t a jury of her peers either”.
In the midst of the trial, an explosion happened that would uncover serious government misconduct. This misconduct was so grievous that Judge Leon excused the jury to conduct a mini-trial. The IRS with the permission of the DOJ prosecutor sent an agent to “witness” Driscoll testify in the June 2015 custody hearing. This IRS Agent, Robert Valdini, did so while purposefully concealing his identity from the court (Judge Richard Bernhardt), Driscoll, and Driscoll’s attorney Robert Erdmann when asked in open court who he was even thought he hadn’t been authorized to be undercover. Valdini lied stating he was “just an interested member of the public”. It was also uncovered that Agent Valdini had a secret lunch during this hearing with Driscoll’s ex-husband Geoff Hermanstorfer, Jessica Hermanstorfer, their attorney Darin Rumer.
During this hearing Driscoll was mostly asked financial questions about the foundation vs questions about the care of her son after a thorough review of the custody transcripts. The questions were a mirror of the whistleblower complaint filed by Finch that were still secret at this time and only in the possession of the government. Judge Bernhardt became angry with the line of questioning and asked Hermanstorfer’s lawyer to stop multiple times as they were not relevant to the custody matter, yet Rumer continued.
Valdini listened to Driscoll as she explained openly how the foundation operated, how her business operated, who did the accounting and and how often, what Finch’s and other staffer’s roles were in that process, how the board worked, how often the accountants and auditors were in the office. Driscoll’s statements were consistent with the statements given by the then AFF attorney Lin Wood to ESPN about the allegations of misuse of funds. By all appearances, Valdini learned from this testimony how to craft his investigation, how to steer away from exculpatory evidence, and lead the “investigation” to the conclusion he had predetermined: he wanted to find her guilty. As Valdini testified, this case would put this 7 year IRS investigator on the map.
Everything this agent learned from the minute he lied to Driscoll and the Judge was “fruit of the poisonous tree” according Driscoll’s criminal attorney Brian Stolarz. According to both Stolarz and Judge Leon, Valdini lied, misrepresented himself, and didn’t disclose the fact that there was an active investigation. As a result, Judge Bernhardt lost the ability to protect a witness in his courtroom by informing Driscoll and her attorney of her 5th amendment rights to remain silent. Remaining silent doesn’t mean someone is guilty, remaining silent also allows you to protect your defense if you are in fact under investigation. The government essentially gained Driscoll’s playbook before the game.
During the mini trial, Valdini came under a wrath of fire from Judge Leon again as Valdini lied while on the stand about the situation. Judge Leon angrily asked Valdini, “Think Hard, think really hard about your answer”. Valdini continued to lie about being asked who he was, despite three attorneys on opposing sides testifying that Valdini had been asked by both Driscoll and the court about his identity before Driscoll testified. Unfortunately for Driscoll, the jury never got to hear the testimonies of the three custody attorneys, Finch, Agent Valdini, Agent Lynch, Prosecutor Virginia Cheatham, and hear the wrath of the judge as it related to this coverup and misconduct. This explosive testimony was done without the jury present. When Valdini returned to the stand in front of the jury, he changed his story and downplayed the earlier lie he had been caught in. According to Carlton, “He was clearly coached. Its not fair that the jury didn’t get to see the element of surprise when Valdini was confronted with his lies.”
Information came to light that Agent Robert Valdini had secret lunch with Driscoll’s ex-husband Hermanstorfer, his attorney Darin Rumer, and new wife Jessica during the custody hearing. The DOJ didn’t memorialize this secret meeting nor a critical day of testimony in the custody hearing when the Judge made an important ruling of “extreme bias” on the part of the whistleblower and chief government witness, Tanya Finch. Finch was the first cousin of Driscoll’s ex-husband and former personal assistant and bookkeeper for Driscoll and the AFF, who admitted to using a “light box” to forge Driscoll’s signature and was the only one with the QuickBooks password, according to the FBI. Valdini testified that all of this information and “extreme bias” was purposefully left off investigative notes. Agent Valdini provided Judge Leon with no good explanation as to why he also didn’t take notes at all on the 4th day of testimony stating he only regretted not writing up the lunch. The Steel Truth has reached out to the DOJ for comment and filed a FOIA for the investigative records over 90 days ago, both have been ignored to date.
According to Finch’s testimony, she was a super fan of Kurt Busch. Finch testified in both the custody hearing and in federal court that “she did this for Kurt Busch” and worked closely with Busch’s legal team to “take Driscoll down… to keep her from destroying this man’s reputation”. Finch posted pictures to Facebook of her dining with Busch, his now wife Ashley Busch, and Finch’s boyfriend Michael Collins less than one month before she filed the whistleblower complaint. Busch had also allegedly promised to pay Finch’s legal fees if she went after Driscoll according to a member of Finch’s legal team. According to her testimony, Finch and Collins had also been guests at Busch’s home and ridden on his private jet. Collins had been a guest spotter for Busch during at least one NASCAR race.
Robert Erdmann, Driscoll’s custody attorney, testified that Busch promised him verbally that he would fund Driscoll’s custody case against Hermanstorfer, that is until Driscoll filed assault charges against Busch. Busch then aligned himself with Hermanstorfer despite the Hermanstorfer’s threatening to call the police on Busch the year prior for threats and a verbal assault against Jessica Hermanstorfer. The Hermanstorfers attended the Driscoll/Busch domestic violence hearing with the Hermanstorfers supporting Busch. Busch and some of his employees appeared on Hermanstorfer’s witness list during the custody hearing. More bias ignored by the DOJ was that Hermanstorfer was accused in a contempt hearing for using his position at CACI to try to destroy Driscoll’s business. Hermanstorfer also allegedly lied on the stand about his involvement with the FBI and IRS in his attempt to frame Driscoll. According to government testimony, none of these facts appeared anywhere on IRS, FBI, or DOJ investigative notes. According letters filed in federal court from veterans supporting Driscoll, Hermanstorfer is an alleged false claimer in regards to his military service. Stolen Valor and perjury are both crimes that could affect Hermanstofers security clearance but surely should have been taken into consideration in an investigation as to the credibility of one of the FBI’s main sources of information. The Hermanstorfer’s and CACI refused to comment.
More problems for the DOJ arose between the government and its own witnesses when prosecutor Virginia Cheatham claimed to Judge Leon that her case was “all but sewn up” before the custody hearing. Judge Leon lashed out at Cheatham in anger stating that this was “Incredible and impossible” and pointed out the investigation had just started three weeks before the custody hearing. Agents Valdini and Lynch also contradicted their prosecutor’s claim testifying that they “knew less than 5% about this case” when Driscoll testified in June of 2015 in the custody hearing and testified that Driscoll had no reason to believe she was under investigation at the time.
Lin Wood, attorney for the foundation told ESPN Outside the Lines, that they were unaware of any investigation prior to this custody hearing. Wood goes on to say, “the one-sided reporting of ESPN makes accusations that are blatantly and demonstrably false”. Wood also is quoted saying that Outside the Lines pursuit of this story is “shameful” and “that her (Driscoll) only connection to sports is having been the alleged victim at the hands of a professional athlete.” According to Driscoll’s custody attorney Robert Erdmann, “we believed these filings (Hermanstorfer’s) to be false and defamatory in nature to feed the press. These allegations of an investigation were made up by an unscrupulous custody lawyer who wanted to further his client’s case.” Driscoll wasn’t visited by the IRS nor FBI until mid-July of 2015, about a month after the custody hearing.
ESPN in fact was getting information for their articles from the custody filings of Hermanstorfer making allegations of Driscoll’s misuse of foundation money as Federal Whistleblower complaints are kept secret until charges are brought. Finch testified that she didn’t provide her whistleblower complaint to Hermanstorfer or to anyone else. The question Leon never got the answer to was how did Hermanstorfer and his legal team get an exact copy of this secret document if he didn’t’ get it from Finch and her team? How did Hermanstorfer’s filing in a custody hearing match both in font and word for word with a secret Government document? Leon declared that he questioned the integrity and honesty of Hermanstorfer’s lawyer Darin Rumer after his testimony. Rumer was in possession of not only stolen financial documents protected by a non-disclosure agreement, but also a secret Whistleblower complaint. There had also been allegations that Rumer had met with a government agent a week before the custody hearing.
The IRS and DOJ had become judge, jury, and executioner. The notes from the IRS investigator took 4 years to surface with the defense receiving them only the day before the federal trial began, even though two years prior the DOJ had tried to get Driscoll to take a plea bargain. It makes one wonder why a defendant doesn’t have all of the investigative notes and evidence prior to being asked to plead out. How can anyone make an informed decision if you don’t have all of the facts?
Jan Toth, a veteran’s wife who had worked with AFF and attended many days of the trial said, “It is unbelievable to me that IRS would use a child custody case to ask Driscoll financial questions about the Foundation that have nothing to do with the care of her son. It’s even more disgusting to me that they would be having secret meetings and lunches together to conspire. Who knows what else we don’t know since they seem to document what they want to. As a mother this is a scary thing to watch. Your exes want to get even with you so they call the IRS…This just shows you the power an athlete has to keep abusing their victims. As a long time NASCAR fan, this is just sickening and NASCAR let him get away with it, even after more abuse is uncovered.” Toth was referring to another explosive revelation during trial, witness Wendy O’Neil a former AFF employee, admitted that Busch had also assaulted Driscoll in the summer of 2012. Driscoll called O’Neil the night the attack happened, sent her photos for “safe keeping” of the bruises and red marks on Driscoll’s face and neck, but O’Neil (an admitted Busch fan and new friend of Hermanstorfer) destroyed the photos. Driscoll never reported this attack to the police.
As the trial went on, the government’s witnesses contradicted the government’s theory that Driscoll compensated herself more that she was owed and mis-categorized data entries in QuickBooks. The FBI testified that Driscoll didn’t have the password to QuickBooks and couldn’t prove that she personally had done anything to the books. Carlton stated, “The government got beat every day. The facts were against them and they looked ridiculous. I watched as most of the jurors looked horrified at the lies.”
The foundation was governed by a board, a finance committee that met regularly, had an accounting firm, and an independent auditor who oversaw the foundations finances and tax returns. Testimony revealed that these parties had full and open access to the foundation’s books. The foundation Finance Committee members testified that Driscoll was owed what she been compensated and was owed more money that she had not yet been paid. These board members also stated that as the finance committee they had full and open access to all financial documents and were ultimately responsible for the foundations tax returns. The finance committee chair, Hugh Webster, was a nationally acclaimed Non-profit attorney who had published two books on running boards of non-profits. So why wasn’t the board, book keeper and accountants sitting next to Driscoll at the defendants table? It might have something to do with the fact that after Driscoll left, the AFF spent most of the remaining $3 million dollars on a lawyer name Ralph Caccia who had worked alongside of Virginia Cheatham for years. The AFF gave Caccia’s firm $1 million dollars in the first three months after Driscoll’s departure. As a side note, the foundation kept the same accountant and made the same errors on their next two tax returns post Driscoll that had been made while Driscoll was employed there. The same errors that the DOJ brought charges against Driscoll were not brought against the foundation or their employees for the same tax return errors.
The IRS wasn’t alone in the alleged misconduct, the FBI also participated in alleged illegal and unethical actions by interviewing people and never documenting these interviews. Former FBI Agent Mike Dick told The Steel Truth, “Agents have a legal obligation to write all interactions down and make their investigative notes available to the defendants both exculpatory and inculpatory. If you only write derogatory comments by someone it’s not administratively pure. Keeping out information that is potentially beneficial to a defendant is called spoliation and it is illegal. Under normal circumstances investigators understand the biases of former spouses and disgruntled employees and they wouldn’t make these biased people the nucleus of information. We have an obligation to investigate both sides, and not make a conclusion of the desired outcome from the beginning.”
One of the people that the FBI interviewed was a former AFF employee who, in a letter supporting Driscoll, stated he was visited in person by the FBI at his home in Denver, Colorado, yet no 302 exists of this visit. This former employee also reported contradictory evidence to the FBI’s theft theory. Another witness was Driscoll’s former neighbor who was visited alone and in person by FBI Agent Tim Lynch at her work. She also provided exculpatory comments in favor of Driscoll but there is no 302 of this interaction either.
Other witnesses who testified stated that their 302’s were missing whole parts of conversations and missing information that was exculpatory and helpful to Driscoll. Some of the witnesses that testified said their statements had been twisted by the FBI. As a side note, FBI interviews are rarely recorded, so agents write down notes of how they think the conversation went and what they feel is important, not the actual word for word interaction. Carlton who observed almost every day of the trial said that, “I’ve never heard so many lies (by the government and government witnesses). They couldn’t even get it together, they contradicted each other. The prosecutor lied, the FBI lied, the IRS lied, it was unbelievable. It scares me as a black woman as to the power of the justice department. These people have no morals (The DOJ). They know they’re wrong, but they want to win at all cost and don’t care about who’s lives they ruin in the process. Even when they are caught in their lies, they continue pushing lies and doctored emails. How can you present a doctored email as evidence when the people who doctored it is the DOJ and Finch? I am scared for my son. This is what my community has been talking about, the injustice. The system is broken”. According to Carlton, Driscoll had veteran supporters in the masses almost every day of court. Some traveled as far as North Carolina and California to show their support.
On top of the 5th amendment violations came Brady Act violations. This case was riddled with “lost” evidence that would benefit Driscoll, and missing 302’s. To make matters worse, the DOJ prosecutor Cheatham knew that these notes were missing from Agent Valdini’s court appearance and did nothing about it. The IRS and FBI are legally obligated to write down all interactions, calls, emails, meetings and disclose this evidence to the defense after someone is charged. Judge Leon stated, “in Howard County, Geoff Hermanstorfer and Tanya Finch, Hermanstorfer’s cousin and the whistleblower and critical witness in this case conspired to develop facts in a public proceeding that would expose Patricia Driscoll to criminal liability. More troubling, perhaps, Agent Valdini has no qualms exploiting this family feud to further his criminal investigation”. The DOJ prosecutor Virginia Cheatham’s actions Leon labeled “inexcusable”. He goes on to say, “These facts raise a larger questions of how the government has conducted and supervised this investigation.” Judge Leon stated that back in the day agents like Valdini would be transferred to “butt Montana!” for their misconduct (he actually said butt according to witnesses in the courtroom, not Butte as it was transcribed.)
The misconduct uncovered during the custody hearings were just the tip of the iceberg. The IRS took the file of Driscoll’s tax information from her accountant and “lost it”, claiming at first that they never took it. Items in this critical file proved what Driscoll (or Finch on her behalf) had sent to Driscoll’s accountant, Randolph Ruckert, as it related to her income. Without this information the government could claim that Driscoll was criminally hiding information from her accountant. Driscoll only had the emails on her laptop to dispute the missing file’s contents and prove her innocense. Ruckert, admitted to making unintentional errors during his testimony and stated that Driscoll never told him to leave information off or provide false information on the returns. This testimony was echoed by the Foundation’s auditors and accountants stating that Driscoll had always been forthcoming. All of the accountants testified that they rarely dealt with Driscoll but mostly dealt with Finch or other AFF staff due to Driscoll’s demanding schedule.
Testimony by multiple witnesses proved that other items went missing after being picked up by the DOJ. In those items were Driscoll’s personal and company email server, the foundation’s board notes and minutes, the criminal investigation file of Finch from the DC police. Items that clearly could have been helpful to Driscoll and her legal team. Finch, “the Whistleblower”, was under investigation by the DC police a year prior to Driscoll being charged. Finch was being charged with theft and embezzlement for allegedly stealing over $20,000 from the foundation and Driscoll personally. Finch was the foundation and Driscoll’s bookkeeper, wrote all checks, handled payroll, deposited money, paid all bills, and opened all the mail. She was the one who dealt with the accountants and auditors and was the only one with the password to Quickbooks according to the FBI. The prosecutor and the FBI wanting “The Great White Whale” ordered the DC police to “stand down” on Finch, as the DC Police had filed for a warrant for Finch’s arrest according to Detective Thomas Stein’s testimony during the federal trial.
As if this wasn’t already a terrifying Lifetime Movie of The Week, it was uncovered that the DOJ used emails that had been doctored by Finch as evidence. The DOJ also used incomplete emails and removed contents of emails, and broken email strings so that the context of statements made were misconstrued. The DOJ presented these doctored emails during their grand jury presentations before the trial. The original emails surfaced during the trial from the defense proving that the government had provided doctored information, yet even in their closing arguments the DOJ continued to present the doctored emails to the jury. The FBI also accused Driscoll of stealing furniture and other items without executing a search warrant to prove that these items were truly stolen. During the trial pictures of these items surfaced and government witnesses testified that these items had been in the foundation office the whole time. The items were never stolen, but the FBI didn’t bother to interview any of their own witnesses during the course of their investigation according to testimony.
The FBI and IRS used as their main piece of evidence, a spreadsheet containing supposed misappropriated funds that was generated by stolen financial documents complied by Driscoll’s ex-husband, Geoff Hermanstorfer and his wife Jessica. These spreadsheets made accusations that Driscoll had stolen items from the foundation. The Hermanstorfers had never worked for the foundation and had no knowledge as to the appropriateness of expenditures nor programmatic expenses. Geoff Hermanstorfer and apparently the FBI weren’t aware that other staff members used Driscoll’s credit cards for program expenses and purchases until staff members testified to those facts during trial. It makes you wonder why the FBI would be willing to take a spreadsheet made by the ex-husband of a company he has no internal knowledge of and that they wouldn’t investigate these expenses with any foundation staff and their own witnesses?
The DOJ accused Driscoll of stealing almost $1Million, this included mostly the money from the spreadsheet built by Driscoll’s ex-husband of AFF programmatic expenses, her compensation and benefits over the decade she worked for AFF. According to testimony of AFF board members and emails introduced into evidence, the board approved all of Driscoll’s compensation and benefits. Two attorneys for the foundation both publicly and on the stand stated that she was owed the money she was accused of stealing, yet the Government charged her anyway. The government at one point tried to introduce a spreadsheet the FBI created stating Driscoll wasn’t entitled to commissions, some of her salary, rent, or other benefits even though their own witnesses and AFF board members contradicted this theory. Without this theory being in place the charges of “theft” no longer held up. The Judge angrily told the government he “wasn’t going to allow it (commissions spreadsheet)”. He wasn’t going to allow the FBI to make up rules that differed from the foundation’s documentation and governance. This left the prosecution to hang their whole case on the “fraud” being a marketing/consumer fraud as they didn’t believe the foundation’s administrative rate was accurately published on fundraising materials. The marketing numbers were derived from the auditors report . The government’s IRS experts disagreed with the prosecutors simplification of IRS rules and regulations. The government expert’s testimony was in direct conflict as to the application of the “subjective” and “complicated” categorization of expenditures. The government plowed on and ignored its own experts.
“The government’s case fell apart”. Brian Stolarz, Driscoll’s defense attorney said, “We beat the government every day”. Unfortunately for Driscoll, the jury disagreed. For two days straight the jury told the judge that they were “hopelessly deadlocked” on all counts. The Judge refused to accept the verdict and declare a mistrial, instead he kept pushing them back into deliberations with no end in sight. By day three they had a verdict on three counts and a mistrial on the other two, and again Judge Leon refused to accept this decision and told them to go home and think about it. Again, he gave them no timeline that he would release them. By day four, they came back with guilty on all counts to the shock of most of the people in the courtroom, according to witnesses in attendance.
Carlton stated, “many of the jurors were in tears. One girl on the jury ran out of the courtroom crying. It was clear they had been bullied by one juror who got herself elected jury forewoman. That lady spent every day glaring at Patricia. She never took any notes and she’s the same juror who was caught talking to the IRS government witness in the bathroom during the trial asking advice on the fact that her and her husband hadn’t paid taxes. That woman made up her mind before she even heard any evidence. This isn’t justice”. According to the DOJ, the jury forewoman had been reported speaking to the DOJ’s IRS witness on the first day of trial in the bathroom. The prosecutor claimed it was only about her personal unpaid taxes and argued that the juror be allowed to remain.
The case got weirder. Driscoll was convicted in early December 2018. During the trial the numbers shrunk of Driscoll’s alleged misdeeds from a million the DOJ originally claimed she stole, to the prosecution now saying she owed $77,000 in taxes. With the theft largely out, the government was left with donations as the fraud they say was illegally gotten by the foundation through an alleged false advertisement of the AFF’s administrative rates. These donations the prosecution claims were gotten in part as a result of this marketing scheme added up to $472,000. The Judge during sentencing strongly disagreed with the government’s allegations and reduced the amount to under $85,000 with $48,500 of that being a car that was donated to AFF that had been auctioned off at Barrett Jackson. Ted McIntyre, who bought the car for $1 Million dollars declared his support for Driscoll in a letter to Judge Leon and said he “never felt defrauded” and that Driscoll was a great person. During sentencing, unlike the trial, the government only had to prove beyond a preponderance (51%) of the evidence with all benefit going to the government. Of note, the majority of the alleged “victims” were finance committee members of the AFF, who had full access to the foundations financials and were responsible for the tax returns. One board member was given immunity for his testimony. Not one alleged victim showed up during sentencing. Driscoll was set for sentencing in July 2019 but after a two hour hearing it was rescheduled again for August 8. Three hours before sentencing it was postponed again without explanation two more times and eventually pushed to September 12, 2019.
According to Stolarz, Driscoll maintains her innocence and plans to appeal the guilty verdict. He says, “This case is ripe with injustice that will have a destructive effect on the entire justice system if her (Driscoll) sentence is allowed to stand”. He says, “The jury got it wrong. She is innocent. The evidence proved her innocence and I will continue to stand by her.” Veterans, donors, and supporters in the hundreds have jumped to her defense writing passionate letters about Driscoll and her impact on the community. One homeless veteran testified for her at her sentencing who was a student in her class. He said, “She changed my life and continues to help veterans like me even after everything that happened. She’s a good lady that the justice system failed. Now they are failing all of us”. One veteran and his wife started a Fundly account to help Driscoll with the legal bills and right the wrong done here”:
The following story is an in depth look and exclusive story, after a yearlong investigation into the case of the USA vs. Patricia Driscoll.
NASCAR Driver Kurt Busch: multi-year winner of Forbes Most Hated Athletes. Busch is a known volatile driver who has been suspended from NASCAR a few times in his career for his violent behavior. This including after an order of protection was granted by a Delaware Judge to Patricia Driscoll for an assault that occurred in Busch’s motorhome in September 2014. The Judge stated in a 26-page decision that “by a preponderance of the evidence that the Respondent (Busch) has committed and act or repeated acts of domestic violence against the petitioner (Driscoll)”.
Patricia Driscoll: well-known in DC circles as a strong conservative with ties to many Republican members of Congress including Darryl Issa, Duncan Hunter Sr., Bill Young and many others. She was head of a small defense firm and President and Board Member of the now defunct Armed Forces Foundation (AFF). She often appeared on Fox News and the Discovery Channel. According to testimony of others and letters filed in support of her last week, she frequently deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Mexican border in support of Special Operations and law enforcement missions. She was the former girlfriend of NASCAR driver Kurt Busch and has a young son. She is the subject of a federal criminal case in DC.
Geoffrey Hermanstorfer: jilted ex-husband of Patricia Driscoll who has used the IRS as a weapon against his ex-wife in an attempt to gain custody of their minor son. We will call him SON for the rest of the story to keep this innocent victim from further harm. Hermanstorfer is also the 1st cousin to Tanya Finch, former bookkeeper of the Armed Forces Foundation. He also lived for a period with the Armed Forces Foundation accountant Carole Weidorfer after his split with Driscoll. According to letters filed last week in support of Driscoll, Hermanstorfer is considered by many of his work peers as a false claimer (yes, his former co-workers wrote letters of support for Driscoll). According to these letters from prior servicemen, Hermanstorfer claims to have been a member of the elite Delta Force, for which these letters state he has never been a member of that organization. He is married to Jessica Hermanstorfer who also plays a significant role in the conspiracy against Driscoll. We reached out to him for comment, but he has declined.
Tanya Finch: 1st cousin of Geoff Hermanstorfer, Armed Forces Foundation bookkeeper and personal assistant to Patricia Driscoll 2005 to end of 2013. She was also charged with theft by the Armed Forces Foundation and Driscoll for over $20K in cash and stealing many other items including financial and personal documents that she was precluded from taking under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). She is a super fan of Kurt Busch, and as a result of his suspension in February of 2015 she decided to “take action against Driscoll” and files a federal whistleblower complaint in May of 2015 alleging Driscoll misused foundation funds.Agent Robert Valdini: Trampler of your 5th amendment rights, and poster boy of Government misconduct. He is an IRS criminal division agent and has a law degree. Valdini doesn’t feel the need to write up interactions with individuals, though he’s legally obligated to, secretly dines with the Hermanstorfers and their attorney during the custody hearing, and is ok with using the IRS as a weapon. During the custody hearing in Howard County, Maryland, Valdini lies about his identity to Ms. Driscoll, her attorney, and the Judge presiding. A JUDGE! He wasn’t authorized to be undercover but lies about his identity anyway. Valdini, during his grand jury testimony, also lies about Driscoll “making up an Orioles/troop event on the foundation’s tax return”, he claims the event never happened. Evidence in the trial showed Valdini had been provided information from TNT All Access that proved the event was in fact real, and happened one month prior to his grand jury testimony. In fact, Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch and TNT filmed an episode on it. I guess he doesn’t know how to use Google.
Agent Timothy Lynch: FBI agent. According to his testimony, receives stolen financial documents and a spreadsheet compiled by the Hermanstorfers alleging Driscoll stole from the AFF. Lynch claims to have validated the hard work of the Hermanstorfers, even though the Hermanstorfers had no knowledge of the legitimate programmatic and business expenses of the foundation and Driscoll’s company. During testimony in the federal trial, Lynch reveals that he never served a search warrant for these items the government claims were stolen and doesn’t appear to have interviewed the government’s own witnesses as these witnesses debunk the government’s (actually the Hermanstorfer’s) claims of theft. In our investigation, we have also learned that Agent Lynch and other FBI agents have visited potential witnesses about Driscoll but fail to document these interactions as they are LEGALLY obligated to under the Brady Act. Missing 302’s. Potential exculpatory evidence. What does the FBI not want us to know? They have refused our multiple FOIA requests for all of the notes in this case.
Virginia Cheatham: Lead DOJ prosecutor and supervisor to the investigation of Driscoll. She allows Valdini to attend the custody hearing, “only if he didn’t have to badge in at the courthouse” (she wanted his identity concealed but didn’t go through the process for a legal formal cover). She also knew Valdini was at the courthouse more days than there are memos for and doesn’t provide them to the defense for almost 4 years after they are written. Did we mention she also worked with and was friends with AFF criminal attorney Ralph Caccia, attorney from Weily Rein who was hired shortly before Driscoll resigned from the foundation.
Judge Richard J. Leon: Senior federal judge in the DC Circuit Court. Presiding judge over the AT&T merger case and Patricia Driscoll’s trial.
Judge Richard J. Leon: What does the DOJ not want us to know?They have refused our multiple FOIA requests for all the notes in this case. We also reached out to the DOJ with a list of questions about this case, to include rumors that lead prosecutor Cheatham has been taken off of the trial calendar for disciplinary action taken by Judge Leon for the government misconduct. During the July 23, 2019 sentencing hearing Cheatham didn’t speak nor was Agent Valdini present. Judge Leon stated that he takes the credibility of “the investigative (FBI/IRS) and counsels (Cheatham/DOJ) notes and 302’s WITH A GRAIN OF SALT!” We have not received any comments or answers to our numerous questions from the DOJ.
This story is one that will turn your stomach. Everyone has had a bad breakup, but hopefully not as bad as the journey we are about to embark on. Patricia Driscoll and Kurt Busch had a four- year relationship that was so serious that Busch often referred to her son as his “adopted son”. At the beginning of their courtship, Busch had started out as a top tier driver with the Penske NASCAR team. The relationship with Busch and his team was tumultuous resulting in Busch’s firing at the season end after a verbal assault on ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch. The video of this assault went viral and aided Busch in making Forbes most hated athlete list again. Following his dismissal, Busch drove for a back of the pack, now defunct Phoenix Racing and his brother’s junior series team. Busch continued on a downward spiral and verbally assaulted another reporter, Bob Pockrass, which lead to NASCAR suspending Busch.
It was at this point where, according to many NASCAR media accounts; Driscoll stepped in to rehabilitate Busch’s image. According to Fox Sports, SB Nation, Yahoo Sports, and ESPN among others, Driscoll wrapped the flag around Busch and created publicity stunts to improve his image such as a “Talladega Nights/Ricky Bobby” themed car, a “Days of Thunder” car, and dedicated parts of the marketing of the car to the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF).
The AFF (through Driscoll) had built a strong partnership with NASCAR and brought wounded troops and their families to the track each week through a program they called “Troops to the Track”. These families stood by Busch at every race.
The pair appeared on multiple documentary styled shows on Fox Sports, TNT and with Driscoll’s foundation appearing on CMT and many other news stories. Driscoll took on managing Kurt’s “The Double”, a high-profile attempt to race both NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600 race in Charlotte, NC and the Indianapolis 500 in Indianapolis, IN on the same day. According to interviews with Busch and published in many NASCAR media reports, Driscoll was responsible for transforming the Busch tarnished image. By the end of the season of 2012 Busch was offered a job at the championship winning Furniture Row Racing and then Stewart Haas. Driscoll, her son, and the AFF were by Busch’s side throughout, even making Busch one of their celebrity ambassadors. This list includes James Gandolfini, Ron White, Adam Richmond, chef Anne Burrell, Frankie Muniz, FOX NFL SUNDAY cast, Barry Pepper, and a whole list of top comedians and athletes.
During 2010-2014, Busch and Driscoll lived in each other’s homes and on the road in Busch’s motorhome at NASCAR races. According to testimony given in Delaware during the assault hearing, Busch spent most of the time at Driscoll’s home in Maryland due to her custody agreement with Hermanstorfer. Busch showed evidence that Driscoll paid all of the bills for their lives in Maryland, and besides vacations, she paid her own way during the relationship. She was a self-made business woman who had a successful small defense company. She was a regular visitor to the George W. Bush White House, was a well-respected and connected DC operative. She appeared regularly on FOX NEWS as a critic of the Obama administration’s treatment of veterans. She also testified before Congress. Driscoll had a very positive media profile until she was assaulted by Busch in September of 2014. Driscoll had the nerve to file charges against Busch for grabbing her by the throat and smashing her head into the wall repeatedly of the motor home while her young son was present. Filing charges would change the course of her life forever. For in depth reporting on this assault and the aftermath, link to Sports Illustrated and Think Progress articles:
2014 was a time before the #METOO movement. This was right after the Ray Rice and Greg Hardy brutally assaulted their partners. Wives and girlfriends of these abuser athletes were chastised and threatened by fans for daring to file charges. They were labeled gold diggers and whores. Driscoll’s situation was no different. She received death threats from fans and Busch kept (and still has today) all of her personal belongings including two cars, clothes, furniture, and her son’s toys and clothes. In fact, a letter from Busch’s attorney says he wants Driscoll to pay $3500 in fees to him for storage or he will not allow her to pick up her things. He has sold one of her two cars. Her furniture is still being used by Busch in his office and house as seen on the Monster Energy video of a look into Kurt Busch’s home.
Busch made wild accusations on the stand (you are protected from slander and liable if you make these statements while in court). Busch claimed Driscoll was a trained assassin and had seen “blood and brain matter on her ballgown one night in El Paso”. At one point, the Judge asked Busch if he was on his medications, yet very few media outlets ran with facts of the testimony. Only the clearly outlandish accusations made by Busch seemed to make the headlines. Driscoll became the target of destruction by Busch and his high-priced lawyer Rusty Hardin who also represented other abusive athletes like Adrian Peterson. Driscoll’s reputation of a running a successful veteran’s charity and defense business was now covered over with news stories of “trained assassins” and trench coats.
Hardin and his investigative team scoured Driscoll’s past, enlisting the help of Driscoll’s ex- husband, disgruntled current and former employees, parents from Driscoll’s son’s school, and Busch superfans. According to letters of support for Driscoll filed in Federal Court last week, Busch tried to get some of her closest friends to fabricate and corroborate fabricated stories put out by the Busch media team. Even though some NASCAR publications now claim Busch was exonerated from abuse allegations, he wasn’t. A Delaware judge concluded, in a 26- page decision, that Busch had assaulted Driscoll on numerous occasions. He gave her an order of protection and NASCAR suspended Busch as a result.
During Driscoll’s Federal trial, witness and former AFF employee Wendy O’Neil testified that Driscoll had been assaulted in the summer of 2012. O’Neil stated that Driscoll called her to report the attack right after it happened and had sent her photos of the assault for safe keeping, “In case something happened to her”. O’Neil, being more a loyal Busch fan than loyal AFF employee and friend, didn’t keep them, stating “It wasn’t her place”. O’Neil also admitted on the stand, that she had been keeping in contact with Driscoll’s ex-husband Hermanstorfer and had recently dined with him in DC. She also claims she had no prior relationship with Hermanstorfer before the Busch assault. What I find disturbing within the NASCAR media circles is that they still call Busch’s assault on Driscoll “alleged” despite the Judges ruling in February of 2015. There have been no updated reports on the NASCAR media’s part to include this latest revelation of another unreported assault in 2012, instead some NASCAR media go as far now to exonerate Busch for the assaults against Driscoll.
During the Delaware trial, Driscoll’s ex-husband, Geoff Hermanstorfer and his wife Jessica attended the hearing each day and were prepared to be witnesses for Busch. According to an email obtained by SteelTruth™, and testimony of Carolyn McNeice (Driscoll’s attorney for the domestic violence case) we find out that a local Delaware reporter John Offredo and Sports Illustrated reporter Andrew Lawrence, who both attended the hearing stated that Hermanstorfer and his wife were trying to “push negative stories about Driscoll to any reporter who would listen, especially the Associated Press”. The Hermanstorfer/Busch new found friendship is curious considering just a year prior the Hermanstorfer’s attorney sent a letter to Busch and Driscoll claiming they feared Busch after an incident involving Jessica Hermanstorfer and Busch outside Driscoll’s home. The letter further states that they request Busch not to be around when picking up or dropping off the child and demanded “to meet in a public place to exchange the child” because their fear was so great of Busch. Did I also mention that months prior to this Domestic Violence hearing the Hermanstorfers filed a lawsuit for full custody of the child he shares with Driscoll?
With the Busch trial behind her, Driscoll tried to move on with her life. According to the Think Progress Article, she was traumatized by the wild media stories and couldn’t read or watch anything about herself anymore. Her reputation had gone from a respectable Defense Contractor and Foundation Executive who poured her heart into helping troops, to Trained Assassin who was assaulted by Busch. ESPN and other sports related entities started taking shots at Driscoll during the Busch trial.
In January of 2015, prior to the 3rd & 4th days of the Busch domestic violence trial, ESPN sends questions over to Driscoll and the AFF attorney about possible misuse of foundation funds. ESPN OTL claims they were working on an expose of Driscoll. Curious timing, since Busch’s fate had not yet been determined by the judge on the domestic violence issue. As a result of the ESPN questions, the AFF hires famed attorney Lin Wood to seek possible defamation claims against ESPN for “False and defamatory reporting”. Wood goes on to say, “the one-sided reporting of ESPN makes accusations that are blatantlyband demonstrably false”. Wood also is quoted saying that Outside the Lines pursuit of this story is “shameful” and “that her (Driscoll) only connection to sports is having been the alleged victim at the hands of a professional athlete.” It does seem odd that ESPN would now be “investigating” a veterans charity for fraudulent financial activity, a charity outside who of Busch really had nothing to do with sports. This is not the typical ESPN story. ESPN reporters didn’t have the legal and tax background to understand the complex issues and cost allocations associated with the tax filings of a nonprofit. They aren’t the Wallstreet Journal. I digress.
Even though Driscoll had just finished up a 4 day over 2 months media circus trial, she had another one looming. One in her own words “was the most important trial”. The Hermanstorfers decided to use the Busch assault and chaos surrounding it to their advantage to pursue full custody of Driscoll’s child. This wasn’t the first time Hermanstorfer had sued Driscoll for full custody, but the third time in the five years since their split, each time he was unsuccessful. Through the custody hearing and Driscoll’s federal trial, we learn that Hermanstorfer coordinated court filings and efforts with ESPN to further their stories. ESPN serves up the first of its hit pieces May 22, 2015 and a second one on June 12, 2015. ESPN uses inflammatory headlines such as “FBI, IRS investigating Patricia Driscoll”. If you read the article closely, you will see neither the FBI nor the IRS confirm an investigation and the “sources” for the ESPN article are anonymous. All that is mentioned is that a federal whistle blower complaint has been filed by a disgruntled former employee.
Filing a complaint doesn’t mean that an investigation will follow, it just means that it was filed. People make complaints to the IRS and FBI every day, it doesn’t mean that every complaint leads to an investigation. What ESPN fails to report is that the “confidential whistleblower complaint” was filed by Hermanstorfer’s 1st cousin, Busch superfan, and Driscoll’s former bookkeeper, Tanya Finch. ESPN also leads readers to believe that “court documents filed” are somehow official government filings related to an investigation when they were documents created by Hermanstorfer and his attorney and filed in a nasty custody dispute. Again, I want to remind you, that if you file documents with the court, you can’t be sued for liable and slander, so you can file and say any inflammatory and false thing you want. ESPN uses filings by Hermanstorfer to mislead a reader who may be skimming a headline or the story. ESPN uses words like “Documents the FBI has access to” and “records available to the FBI” to mislead the reader that these documents were somehow tied to an official investigation. In fact, Federal Whistleblower complaints are not public information until the government makes an investigation official. Wood informs ESPN in a written statement that neither Driscoll nor the AFF are aware of any FBI or IRS investigation.
ESPN also makes claims that Driscoll was having the AFF pay her American Express bills as if she was trying to steal or conceal payments. The AFF’s attorney, Lin Wood, also states that Driscoll was owed commissions and any payments made on her behalf were charged against her commissions owed account. Wood states that the board does not think she has done anything improper, after all, aren’t the board members the ones who govern the foundation’s finances? Wood also stated that “forensic analysis by the foundation’s auditor had concluded that the allegations of wrongdoing contained in the ESPN article are inaccurate”.
ESPN accurately states that Hermanstorfer filed a contempt action against Driscoll for failing to provide any financial documents, but in that filing, Hermanstorfer releases 800 pages of Driscoll’s financial documents he didn’t receive from her. Hermanstorfer also provides a spreadsheet of items he claims Driscoll stole from the foundation or used foundation funds to pay for personal goods. This is the same document the FBI uses as their “proof” of items Driscoll allegedly stole from AFF. Included in these documents is alleged purchases from EBAY for Chanel Sunglasses. The question everyone should be asking is how did they get the detail of what was bought when a credit card statement only shows who it was bought from? So did her ex hack into her eBay account? Did he hack into her emails to find a receipt? You also have to wonder why the FBI/IRS would take the word of a disgruntled ex-husband who is clearly using the IRS as a weapon against his ex to gain custody. You also have to wonder why they would even consider a list of “stolen items” from a person who has no knowledge of programmatic expenses of the foundation. Tanya Finch also testified in federal court that multiple staff members used Driscoll’s AFF credit and bank cards. How would the Hermanstorfers have knowledge that Driscoll herself made these purchases?. This is pretty crazy that someone outside of a forensic accountant has time or energy for putting together an 800 page collection. ESPN also lists out a bunch of charges on her personal (not foundation) credit cards but makes it sound like she has committed a crime by using her personal card for personal items. If the board of the foundation says she is owed money, who cares what she spends it on? Why is that news worthy?
The hearing took place June 23, 2015-June 26, 2015 in Howard Co, MD. During this period, Driscoll and Finch both testify. Through testimony and cross examination of Agent Valdini we learn that he attends the custody hearing with the permission of DOJ prosecutor Virginia Cheatham. According to his testimony, Driscoll approaches him on the first day and asks him who he was. He lies to her and her mother, stating he was “a member of the public and interested attorney”. According to transcripts in Federal court, Cheatham does not authorize Valdini to be in any kind of “cover” but does allow him to go to the hearing “as long as he didn’t have to badge in”.
Driscoll is the first witness called to the stand by her ex-husband’s attorney, Darin Rumer. After an extensive review of the custody transcripts, Driscoll is asked hours of financial questions about the foundation and her personal expenses. She’s asked very few questions about the care of her son. The Judge becomes angered with Rumer and asks him to stop this line of questioning. According to testimony in federal court of Driscoll’s custody attorney, Rob Erdmann, the Best Interest Attorney Kimberly Arn, and Hermanstorfer’s attorney Rumer, the Judge and Erdmann both asked the strange man sitting in the back of the courtroom who he was prior to the hearing resuming. Agent Valdini lies to the Judge and Driscoll’s attorney about who he is and states he’s an “interested member of the public”. Erdmann testifies in Federal court that he believed this man to be a reporter as he attended all four days of the hearing. Erdmann also states that if he had any clue his client was under investigation, he never would have allowed her to testify.
So, what did she say? She must have said something to get them to continue to pursue her? No. Her testimony was consistent with statements made by the AFF board members and their legal representative Lin Wood. Driscoll had an explanation for every question asked of her. She did so without hesitation according to other witnesses in the courtroom. Failure to answer these questions could also cost her custody of her son, according to Judge Leon. The issue for Driscoll here is a matter that her 5th amendment rights were violated.
She has a right to remain silent. She has a right to keep her defense secret if she was under investigation. Can you imagine having the playbook of your opponent in a chess match before you began the match? Or knowing what everyone’s hands were at poker? Can you imagine that your ex was working with IRS to establish questions to ask you under oath that would allow them to have full knowledge of your hand? The investigation had just begun and as Agents Valdini and Lynch testified, they were in the infancy of their investigation and had little information. Both agents stated that they were surprised by Driscoll’s question of who Valdini was because they both stated she had no reason to believe she was under investigation at that point. The issue is: everything they learned from this point is “fruit of the poisonous tree”. This is dirty, or as Judge Leon so eloquently described this misconduct by Valdini and Cheatham “I think it smells. I feel like I’m in a dumpster somewhere. I don’t like what’s happening here at all”
Tanya Finch was the bookkeeper for Driscoll, the AFF, and Driscoll’s defense company. According to her testimony and the testimony of the accountants and staff, Finch did all of the data entry for these entities, worked with the accountants, opened the mail, deposited funds, and paid bills including Driscoll’s personal bills. She was the conduit of information on Driscoll, her schedule, and keeper of all user names and passwords for every account Driscoll had (banks, airlines, ebay, hotels, etc). During the custody hearing of June of 2015, Finch testified that she also had a light box in her office that she would use to mirror Driscoll’s signature. She would sign checks and even signed Driscoll’s name without permission or Driscoll’s knowledge for things like recommendation letters for employees Driscoll fired. Driscoll by Finch’s account was rarely in the office and was always on the road. Finch managed her travel. Finch worked at the foundation from 2005-late 2013.
We find out during the federal trial, Finch was first interviewed by the FBI June 9, 2019. She informs them that she will be testifying in a couple of weeks in Howard County as a witness for her cousin Geoff Hermanstorfer. Both agents testify that at their first meeting with Finch they got very little details of the allegations. On June 25 & 26 Tanya Finch testifies at the custody hearing in support of her cousin Hermanstorfer. Agent Valdini says he learned in detail the accusations Finch was making during this custody hearing. Both agents stated they knew little about this case “less than 5%” at the time when Driscoll testified under oath. After this testimony, they had a very clear picture of Finch’s accusations and how Driscoll would defend herself.
During the Federal trial it is uncovered that Finch was the one who had the Quickbooks passwords and did the data entry. According to testimony of Agent Tim Lynch, the FBI had no way of knowing who did what entries on Quickbooks because there was only one account. This account couldn’t be remotely accessed, and that account was password protected on Finch’s work computer with only Finch having the password to both the computer and the Quickbooks. Even with these facts the government still tried to accuse Driscoll of making changes in Quickbooks. This is unsettling on so many levels. If there was no remote access and Driscoll was gone, how could she have made changes? And more unsettling the government never said specifically what “changes were made” or when. They just said, “at the end of the year Driscoll made changes”. So you’re guilty of a crime with no details? Just a blanket statement?
The FBI/IRS looked the other way at Finch’s obvious bias and allegations of theft. The AFF and Driscoll had filed charges prior to this custody hearing for over $20K in theft on Finch’s part. According to the testimony of Detective Thomas Stein of the DC Police, he had filed for a warrant for Finch’s arrest, but the Prosecutor Virginia Cheatham orders him to “stand down”. Detective Stein came to testify for the defense. Among the Finch theft allegations, Finch gave herself extra paychecks, gave herself greater reimbursements than she was owed, paid her boyfriend for unknown services, boarded her dogs in a spa like facility at the foundations expense, and took money out in cash from Driscoll’s accounts while she was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the trial it was discovered that Detective Stein’s notes on Finch and her reimbursements and personnel file “were lost” by the prosecution…. More evidence disappearing.
Finch had full access to Driscoll’s emails, she could even send emails as Driscoll. The defense team uncovered that Finch was manipulating Driscoll’s emails, one of these emails the government used as their evidence against Driscoll (Finch’s manipulated email). In fact the government used multiple emails that were doctored or incomplete as their “evidence”. In one email, Driscoll asked Finch to order a FLIR camera and pay with her personal credit card for NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. Finch changes the email to FLIR upon forwarding it and removes the part in the middle about using Driscoll’s personal AMEX. Finch ignores the instruction Driscoll gave her and pays purposefully with the AFF AMEX. This information she included in her whistleblower complaint with the doctored email. When she is caught by the Defense team with the original email, all she says it that she didn’t think FLIR needed to know what card she was instructed to use. WHAT??? Why is she changing Driscoll’s email?? The Prosecution is using doctored emails as their evidence?
The custody Judge, Judge Bernhardt, says “We’re not litigating for the purposes of assisting law enforcement. We are not litigating to smear people. We are litigating to determine custody”. Geoff Hermanstorfer and his lawyer Darin Rumer knowingly receive stolen documents from Tanya Finch, a fact that has been testified to by many parties to include the Federal Agents and Finch. Receiving stolen documents even under subpoena could get a lawyer disbarred and Hermanstorfer could lose his security clearance if its proven that they knew the documents had been stolen. Finch admitted in both the custody hearing and the federal proceedings that she stole the foundations and Driscoll’s bank statements and credit card statements. She admitted that she violated the NDA that protected that information, and had access to all of Driscoll’s usernames and passwords “for everything in her life”. It's of note that Finch was not employed by the foundation for well over a year before she comes in to save the day for Kurt Busch with these stolen documents.
The Judge on the 4th day of testimony makes some very important conclusions about Finch’s bias. This is critical information to anyone facing criminal charges and their attorneys who defend them. What is their reason for making accusations? How truthful are they? The judge said this about Finch during the custody hearing “She’s the first cousin of the Plaintiff (Hermanstorfer) in an extremely acrimonious proceeding, she has admitted taking documents that she was precluded from taking under her disclosure agreement and doing it surreptitiously and hiding them…..I also know that she’s been happy to assist the Kurt Busch wing in whatever endeavors they have via that email… At some point the bias cup is full. And I’m wondering if we’re reaching the overflow point”. Judge Bernhardt continues by saying “You (Erdmann) have spent probably two hours carefully producing an extraordinary amount of evidence of bias, as we sit here right now”. Valdini doesn’t write up any of this but has a legal obligation to do so. Valdini also has a secret lunch with the Hermanstorfers and their attorney that day and doesn’t write that up either. It would be critical for his supervisor to know the bias of the whistleblower so that he/she could determine whether or not the investigation should continue or be written off due to a JUDGE’S opinion of extreme bias and revenge. Is the IRS in the business of assisting in revenge cases? Apparently so.
Valdini doesn’t give the prosecutor, Virginia Cheatham, notes that he took in the custody battle June 2015 until August of 2019. For 4 years, the IRS didn’t provide the prosecutor nor the defense a copy of these notes, 4 years! Valdini only provides Cheatham with the first day of Driscoll’s testimony. The IRS didn’t give the defense a copy of these memos until two weeks before trial. Valdini doesn’t turn over the memo of the 3rd day until the day before trial. And there is no memo on the 4th day.
Another secret unfolds during the Federal trial, Agent Valdini went to Lunch with the Hermanstorfers and their attorney during the custody hearing. Hermanstorfer claims to have documents for the agent. Throughout this process Hermanstorfer has maintained that he was an innocent bystander in the prosecution of Driscoll. During a contempt hearing in Howard Co, November 3, 2017, Hermanstorfer commits perjury on the stand claiming he never contacted the IRS or FBI and that he never provided them documents. He also claims to not have been engaging ESPN nor any other press. We know through the testimony of multiple sources that was also a lie. In fact, Hermanstorfer was determined to see his ex-wife prosecuted and reached out to at least one confirmed media source – Breitbart in the summer of 2016. Hermanstorfer posed as a former Army Public Affairs officer who claimed that the “Army wanted her to go down”. Hermanstorfer was in the Army, but again falsely claims his role in the military. He was neither an officer nor in public affairs at any point, and was not in Delta Force either as he led the FBI to believe.
During this hearing we learn that Hermanstorfer also reached out to many of Driscoll’s business associates with whom she had contracts with. One of those associates he didn’t know personally and used the CACI (the company he works for and is a senior manager according to his LinkedIn Profile) directory of their subcontractors to obtain the gentleman’s information and personal cell phone number. According to the transcripts, Hermanstorfer introduced himself as a CACI contractor who had leverage over this CEO’s subcontracts. The subcontractor was upset by the threats of being punished for having Driscoll as a consultant and sent Hermanstorfer a letter from their corporate attorney in response. Hermanstorfer’s appetite for vengeance is astounding. He even goes as far as asking the FBI to grab her passport 15 months before she is ever indicted.
Fast forward a year. The Hermanstofers are unsuccessful at their bid for full custody and there are no major changes to the custody situation. In September of 2016, almost two years to the day exactly after Busch assaults Driscoll, Driscoll is indicted and arrested on 8 Federal counts. They include interfering with an IRS investigation/Omnibus charge, 2 counts of wire Fraud, 2 Counts of mail fraud, a First-Degree Fraud charge, and 2 counts of tax evasion for the years of 2012 and 2013.
Judge Leon lectures the government about the fact that 97% of all cases are plead out. He feels that is an injustice and is hurting the legal system. He gives Driscoll and her defense team an offer that he will remove the two point trial penalty if Driscoll fights the government, with the caveat if she loses, she will have to admit guilt. Can you believe you can get more time by fighting the government? By all appearances Judge Leon didn’t like this case from the beginning. He states, “For the benefit of the Court of Appeals clerks who may someday get this transcript, I am sitting here with six notebooks full of government’s documents, each of which is 6-inches thick, at least, maybe more. There’s a lot of paper here” He further blasts the government, “but if you think inundating this jury with all of this paper is good for the government, you might want to rethink that too.” He goes on to say, “The jury doesn’t have six months to give up its life…. In my opinion this is an overwhelming amount of paper for a trial of this kind”.
The government/FBI tries to introduce without basis that Driscoll isn’t owed Commissions so that every payment made on her behalf would be considered a theft. The Judge states, “No agent is going to get up and say, well, this is what the rules are and this is what the meaning is. I am not allowing that. That’s not happening.” Judge Leon goes on to say, “You’re overwhelming them; you’re overwhelming this Court. You’re treating this like it’s the case of the century, for God’s sake.” He continues to beat on the government angry that they have created exhibits with writing so small that “the government better go out and buy 12 magnifying glasses… the print is smaller than an ants body…. I mean I don’t know how a juror could read it, frankly.…,from a leap of faith point of view to think that a jury can digest all of this information and make a decision that’s going to impact her life in perpetuity”.
The judge goes further and asks the prosecution to drop all the charges related to the AFF’s tax returns and simplify the case. He doesn’t like the supposed marketing fraud theory the government has come up with. Prior to the trial he dismisses the charge against Driscoll for obstruction. The government did exactly what Judge Leon stated was unfair to Driscoll, they overwhelmed the jury. They put on a case for over 4 weeks trying to pin Driscoll to the allegations they made. Even when their own IRS experts disagreed with the government on cost allocations, and admitted that allocation of expenses to programs vs administrative is subjective, the government continued to argue that their own IRS experts were wrong. That is called reasonable doubt. The prosecution put FBI agent Tim Lynch on the stand, who had no background nor degree in accounting, to confuse the jury about how he believed expenses should be allocated. Lynch also testified that Driscoll didn’t have the password to quickbooks, that there was no remote access to it, and that there was no way to tell if Driscoll, the accountant, the book keeper, or the auditor had been on the single computer that housed the quickbooks. He admitted that he had no idea who made what changes, when and why. Can you imagine that without evidence an untrained FBI agent has determined you’re guilty? Worse, the IRS expert testifies that the government is wrong in their determination. Unfortunately, that’s what happened.
The AFF was audited in early 2014 by the IRS who gave them a clean bill of health. Driscoll was out of the country at the time when the audit took place. The IRS agent who conducted the audit says he did 80 hours of audit and had been a seasoned IRS non-profit auditor for over 20 years. He claims he never spoke to Driscoll in person, via phone, nor email. The government charged her anyway. Pile on!
Judge Leon continues his lecture to the government, “So you might have a different viewpoint; and I’m sure its colored by your agency who wants its pelts. I was a prosecutor; I know how this works. I know what the bureau wants, they want those counts….The IRS has its counts. The bureau wants its counts….. Frankly I don’t really care about the bureau getting its pelts so they can justify all of the work they put into it…. That’s the kind of thinking that the bureau and its bean counters focus on.” Leon continues the beat down, “You guys have tons of paper--- tons that will never be read by any jury. Never be read. It will never be read.”
Government strategy: Overwhelm the jury. Throw enough crap on the wall, lets see what sticks.
These trial transcripts are too important for me not to include them as is. This explains how Driscoll was impacted by the government’s misconduct. This shows the violation of her 5th amendment rights as well as Brady Act violations. The judge should have dismissed the entire case after these disclosures, instead he dismissed two charges leaving her 5 to fight. In all fairness to the judge, it’s a very high burden that has to be met for a judge to drop charges mid trial, all the benefit goes to the government.
This story should be the next Lifetime Movie of the week. Its incredible and horrifying what has happened to Driscoll. More strange things happen during the trial. The Jury forewoman was caught talking to the government’s IRS witness in the bathroom on day one. She also moves out the city of DC during the trial. In DC, unless you are a resident you can’t sit on a jury and be in judgement of someone being tried in DC. Witnesses I interviewed stated that jurors often fell asleep, and very few took notes in a complex tax case that lasted six weeks.
For days the jury kept coming back to the judge saying it was “hopelessly deadlocked”. The Judge refused to accept their verdict and sent them back 3 times, reading jury instructions each time that according to the Prosecutor can only be read one time and beyond that could cause a mistrial in the appellate court. On the second day there was a huge scuttle when the Defense accused the judge of neglecting to read the second half of the instruction which told the jurors that they could “stand their ground if they disagreed with the government”. The judge refused to bring the jury back in to reread the instruction saying, “I told them to follow what I told them yesterday”. On the third day the jury had a verdict on three charges and two they were hopelessly deadlocked on. The judge sent them back again and told them to “go home and sleep on it”. By all accounts it sounded like he would never let them go. On the fourth day, she was found guilty of all charges, clearly they had been coerced. This is another opportunity Driscoll has for an appeal- coercion of the jury.
Driscoll’s civil rights have been violated, the government misconduct is overwhelming, and the use of the IRS in a civil process to attempt to frame someone for criminal activity by using the child as leverage is frankly, disgusting. I will leave you with the findings of the judge for you to see what injustice has occurred her. Driscoll had over 100 letters of support from Veterans, large donors, Generals, former members of Congress, and family. The government had a hard time finding victims of the supposed marketing fraud, half of them being the finance committee members who testified that they had full and unrestricted access to the accounting systems, book keepers, accountants, and auditors. Hopefully the appellate court will have the guts to do what Judge Leon should have, and throw this whole thing out. Everyone should be worried about the outcome of this case. The judge has essentially condoned unauthorized undercover surveillance and lying to judges about identities of agents and the existence of a criminal investigations. This stretches beyond Driscoll.
Driscoll had over 100 letters of support from Veterans, large and small donors, Generals, former members of Congress, and family. Letters, I wished everyone could read. I couldn’t stop crying as people described the good Driscoll did for them in their darkest hours. According to these letters, Driscoll saved lives of many and helped rebuild businesses destroyed by the Ellicott City floods. One letter came from Marine hero SGM Bradley Kasal, Navy Cross recipient, who stated that Driscoll had just had a baby at Bethesda Naval Hospital while he was there. According to Kasal, a few hours after giving birth Driscoll heard a “code blue” and came running to the aid of the family in her hospital gown, and then spent the evening dropping in on other families and himself. There were stories of Driscoll dealing with broken hearted widows, helping families of the the fallen with funeral arrangements, keeping veterans from being homeless and paying their bills, putting veterans into rehab who were addicted to pain meds, and taking calls in the middle of the night of people who were suicidal and talking them off the ledge. Driscoll and the AFF did extraordinary things for our veterans, even the prosecution admitted that.
The government had a hard time finding victims of the supposed marketing fraud. They allegedly sent out over 3000 emails to past donors asking if they had been defrauded and if they knew what the foundation’s administrative rate was. Less than 20 responses came back, almost all saying they hadn’t been defrauded, one saying they knew the percentage rate, and one saying they wanted their $20 back. The alleged victims, half of them were the AFF finance committee members, who testified that they had full and unrestricted access to the accounting systems, book keepers, accountants, and auditors. The government alleged Driscoll stole over $750K from the foundation and had defrauded donors over $500K through her marketing of a false administration rate. By the time the trial ended the government had chopped its claim of theft in half. A “theft” being commissions she was authorized to be paid by the board. The fraud on the donors also disappeared to under $90K, almost half of that amount being a car donated by Barrett Jackson’s Steve Davis that the government had originally claimed was worth $250K (again without having any proof). The other donors are AFF board members who had access to all financials and approved the tax returns, and companies like Clark Construction who is currently under investigation for alleged military housing issues with mold. In fact the prosecution went to talk to Clark AFTER Driscoll had been found guilty. Clark gave money to attend the AFF galas for which the dinners provided have to be deducted from the amounts donated, yet the government is still claiming the whole amount. Its astonishing that the government so desperate to find victims had to go hunting after the trial was over.
Not a single “victim” showed up in the court room during Driscoll’s sentencing. The only people in attendance for the prosecution were a NASCAR blogger, and a Kurt Busch fan. Driscoll on the other hand had family, veterans, students from her classes, people she had helped during the Ellicott City flood, members of the military, and other friends some whom were subpoenaed by the Government as witnesses against Driscoll. One of the homeless veterans who spoke on Driscoll’s behalf testified that “he had been saved by her and the program she put together. She gave him a new purpose in life.” Currently she is teaching veterans in Baltimore city how to fly drones and get them FAA certified.
Hopefully the appellate court will do the right thing and throw this whole thing out. Everyone should be worried about the outcome of this case. Judge Leon, by not dismissing this case has essentially condoned unauthorized undercover surveillance and lying to judges about identities of agents and the existence of a criminal investigations. This stretches beyond Driscoll. Agent Valdini stated that Hermanstorfer’s lawyer, Darin Rumer contacted him about another one of his clients who wanted to report criminal allegations of tax offenses against their ex-spouse. Valdini stated that he was willing to help Rumer, but Rumer said his client backed off. Who knows, you could be next.
Today, September 12, 2019, the Judge fashioned a thoughtful and considered sentence. STAYED pending the appeal. According to her Attorney, Brian Stolarz, "With the stay we can continue on the path to justice for Ms. Driscoll”
Driscoll stated in her allocution that “she stands by her innocence” and the only crime she committed is having “bad taste in men”. Driscoll plans to appeal and says that she doesn’t regret taking care of the military families for over a decade, but she regrets that the government destroyed a foundation that was doing so much good for so many people. She stated that she regrets leaving the foundation with almost $4M that “they burned on attorneys to save themselves from prosecution vs helping service members”. She said that the foundation should have given the money to another foundation to continue to help those veterans she raised the money for.
I want you to know that this woman will be in the fight of her life with the appeal, and most likely a custody battle. Veterans who have been helped by Driscoll launched a fundraising site to help Driscoll with her legal fees and expenses. It can be found here:
As a side note. After Driscoll left the foundation the same board used $1Million of the foundations funds in 3 months to pay for legal fees. They used the remaining $2M over the next year to pay more legal fees, give large severance packages to employees, and keep employees for 9 months after it decided to stop giving money to the troops. The law firm and board who turned on Driscoll, kept the same accountants who made the same errors Driscoll was charged with on the next two tax returns following Driscoll’s departure. No one was charged for these false tax returns.