Overstayer gets funds
MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
Work and Income has confirmed it is funding a Christchurch charity run by an American overstayer.
Harmon Wilfred, who renounced his American citizenship in 2005, and his third wife, Caroline Dare-Wilfred, who has a private income from her family's foodstuffs empire in Canada, arrived in New Zealand in 2001. The couple settled in Sumner.
Wilfred has set up several charitable organisations, which appear to be in disarray, with four staff taking personal grievances over their recent dismissal.
He has resisted deportation by Immigration New Zealand and is applying for New Zealand citizenship.
After his arrival, he was involved with Christchurch's Champion Centre and then set up his own foundation, La Famia, to provide family support services.
Wilfred was elected to the chair of the failing Floyds Creative Arts Charitable Trust, an organisation providing vocational services for people with disabilities, last July.
Work and Income head Mike Smith told The Press his department had provided $79,000 to Floyds (now La Famia Creative Arts) between July and October last year.
Work and Income then entered a short-term arrangement with Wilfred's charity, La Famia No4 Ltd, to provide services until February 28, and nearly $40,000 had been paid under the arrangement.
Smith said Work and Income knew about Wilfred's immigration status, but it funded organisations, not individuals.
Wilfred and his wife have registered five charities with the Charities Commission, which administers regulations under which charities operate.
The charities are La Famia Foundation NZ and four others called La Famia.
According to annual reports submitted to the commission, the charities, which employ only one fulltime staff member, lost $438,000 last year.
The charities are run from bar and function centre Wigram Manor, the former air force officers' club at Wigram.
Three former staff are taking personal grievances after Wilfred allegedly changed their jobs last month. They were then sacked. Another personal grievance is pending.
Wilfred said he could not expand on the issues with The Press because police were investigating allegations he had made against staff. (The staff have denied any wrongdoing.)
La Famia Creative Arts was "going strong" and had applications for funding in progress with the Ministry of Health and other government and private funders, Wilfred said.
He forcing him to return to the United States would be inhumane because of a vendetta against him by high-placed officials.
The vendetta, he said, stemmed from his alleged exposure of several US scams including the siphoning of billions of dollars to the personal pockets of CIA agents, politicians and other government officials.
He has three children in the US from two previous marriages.
He has set up a website, called the World Wide Web Court of Justice, to air his complaints against the US justice system.
His online biography begins: "Once upon a time a male child was born of the human race on the planet Earth in a land called Usaria."
- The Press
Have you had a ticket in the last five years?Related story: Canterbury speed camera use rises sharply