Grand Juries Probing Sports Institute Run By West Hartford Man

Federal and state grand juries have been established to investigate a Rhode Island nonprofit run by West Hartford resident Daniel Doyle Jr., sources close to the investigations confirmed Monday.

One of sources is among those who testified. The U.S. attorney's office in Rhode Island and the Rhode Island attorney general's office declined to comment. Doyle's attorney, Peter DiBiase, couldn't be reached for comment.

The Institute for International Sport, which owns two buildings — one finished and one unfinished — on the University of Rhode Island campus was founded in 1986. It runs programs for teenagers around the world, including the 2011 World Scholar-Athlete Games and World Youth Peace Summit in West Hartford.

Last winter, the Courant reported that the institute was facing mounting debt and was dealing with failed real estate ventures, a government audit and a Rhode Island state police investigation.

State police began investigating the institute in February after a Rhode Island lawmaker forwarded the department a report regarding a state audit that revealed institute couldn't show how it spent a $575,000 grant it received from the state.

As parts of its investigation, state police searched both the institute and Doyle's West Hartford home, removing boxes of documents as evidence.

In late August, Rhode Island State Police said their investigation was moving forward and making progress. At that time, institute spokeswoman Liz White, who works for a Rhode Island-based public relations firm, said the nonprofit remained active. White had no further comment Monday.

Over the past year, there have been many questions about the institute.

Several people, including Ireland's Michael Healy and former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld, have said they never served on the institute's board of directors despite being listed on institute documents as having been board members. Both Hassenfeld and Healy have also questioned the validity of signatures that appear on institute documents filed with the state of Rhode Island.

There have also been questions regarding the six properties the institute owned on Bald Head Island in North Carolina, including two vacation homes. The institute spent almost $3 million, most of it borrowed, to buy the properties.

Doyle told the Courant earlier this year that the properties were bought as an investment, but that the institute did not make money by renting out the vacation homes. Property values also plunged.

Five of the properties were purchased with conventional mortgages and have been foreclosed on. A U.S. District Court judge ruled last spring that the institute had to repay the loan it owed a North Carolina bank for the final piece of property. The loan was not backed by the property, meaning that the bank can seek recovery of the money for the institute and Doyle and his wife if the debt is not paid.

In Rhode Island, government officials are waiting for Doyle to complete construction on its second building on the URI campus. The $575,000 grant that was the subject of the state audit was given to the institute in 2007 and was to be used for building construction. The money was spent, but project is incomplete.

URI Vice President For Administration and Finance Robert Weygand said neither he nor the university have not been contacted by federal officials regarding the sport institute. In fact, Weygand said URI hasn't heard from Doyle and the institute since March when the Doyle family paid off the institute's debt to the university.

"They haven't communicated with us at all," Weygand said.

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