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Wildcat sanctuary loses donors over allegations of financial misuse

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The state's only certified refuge for large wildcats may be in a world of financial trouble following an internal investigation that accuses its leader of misusing funds.

The Star Tribune reports at least 100 donors have suspended their contributions to The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minn. and are calling for the removal of Founder and Executive Director Tammy Quist Thies.

The refuge, which cares for rescued 100 wildcats, is funded solely by private donations.

An internal investigation this summer by the Minneapolis law firm Dorsey and Whitney alleges donor money was spent to pay for Thies’ husband’s skydiving lessons, remodeling at her house, personal meals and groceries and food for her personal pets, the newspaper reported.

The allegations fueled complaints from donors and volunteers who've contributed lots of dollars and hours to the sanctuary.

Sanctuary board President Gail Plewacki denies the law firm's claims and told the newspaper a second audit in September, which Plewacki says can't be shared publicly by law, found no wrongdoing.

Thies was removed from the top job following Dorsey and Whitney's report, but was reinstated by the board two weeks ago. She hasn't been charged with a crime, the Star Tribune said.

On Thursday's Give to the Max Day, donors contributed more than $33,000 to The Wildcat Sanctuary, placing in the top 10 for the largest amounts given to Minnesota's medium-sized nonprofits.

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