Simone Gold versus America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS)

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ars technica

Right-wing doctor group led by anti-vaccine insurrectionist implodes in scandal

Simone Gold used charity funds to buy $3.6M house, group leaders claim.

Beth Mole – 11/16/2022, 5:24 AM

Scandal has reached a full boil at America’s Frontline Doctors—the right-wing pseudo-medical group notorious for peddling bogus COVID-19 treatments and fear-mongering over vaccines and other safe, effective health measures.

The scandal has split the group—aka AFLDS—into warring factions, with its prominent founder, Simone Gold, accused of a slew of wrongdoing, including using the charity group’s funds to buy a $3.6 million mansion for herself and her boyfriend. She’s also accused of staging a hostile coup of the organization in the weeks since her release from federal prison for her role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection, which the group has defended.

The coup has left employees locked out of email accounts and other resources, according to a lawsuit filed by AFLDS against Gold on November 4. The lawsuit also claims Gold seized control of the group’s bank accounts, which reportedly contain at least $7.3 million. For now, it appears Gold also has control over the AFLDS website, which has been pumping out fawning and indignant press releases on her behalf. It’s in an extraordinarily sordid state, even for the ignoble group.
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Financial allegations

Since Gold was released from prison on September 9, things have only gone downhill for AFLDS—quite dramatically, in fact. It seems that while Gold was behind bars, other leaders at AFLDS began looking over the books, noting some rather stunning problems with her use of the charity’s funds.

According to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by AFLDS and the chair of its board of directors, Joseph Gilbert, Gold bought a $3.6 million home in Naples, Florida, in November 2021 with AFLDS funds. Gold lives in the house with Strand, neither of whom paid rent to AFLDS. Gold further used AFLDS funds to subsidize her lifestyle, charging the charity $12,000 per month for a personal security officer, $5,600 per month for a housekeeper, and putting $50,000 per month on AFLDS credit cards. Strand, meanwhile, who had a $120,000 annual salary from AFLDS, charged $15,000 to $17,000 per month on AFLDS credit cards.

Around the same time, Gold bought three vehicles with AFLDS funds, including a Mercedes-Benz, the lawsuit alleges. At various times, she also took unauthorized flights on private planes, one of which cost AFLDS over $100,000.

The same month Gold bought her home, she also used AFLDS funds to rent a Florida property for AFLDS employees “AJ” and Lisa Andrzejewski. Gold agreed to put down $45,000 in advance and pay $15,000 per month for the duration of the 12-month lease with the organization’s money.

But things changed after the insurrection. On February 2, 2022—about a month before Gold pleaded guilty—she resigned from AFLDS’ board, and Gilbert was voted into the chair position. In his new role, Gilbert suggested Gold could stay on at AFLDS as a consultant. In negotiations with Gilbert for such a consulting agreement, Gold sought a signing bonus of $1.5 million and a $600,000 annual consulting fee. It’s unclear from the lawsuit if Gold got that deal.
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But then, in late summer, Gold went to prison, and Gilbert and other AFLDS board members took over running day-to-day activities at AFLDS. According to the lawsuit, the leaders were already suspicious of Gold’s use of AFLDS funds and hired a “forensic auditor” to do a deep dive into the organization’s financials.

When Gold was released in September, Gilbert informed Gold of the audit and that there would be “steps [AFLDS] would need to take as a result” of her misuse of charitable funds, according to the lawsuit. Gold initially “feigned understanding and acceptance of the steps,” but then went to war. Gold once again wielded authority over employees, tried to oust Gilbert via threatening emails to the board, and threatened to dissuade AFLDS donors from giving the charity more money unless it complied with her demands. She also allegedly told donors that Gilbert was involved in financial improprieties, ethical violations, and corruption, though the lawsuit didn’t specify her allegations against Gilbert.

For more:

https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/11/right-wing-doctor-group-led-by-anti-vaccine-insurrectionist-implodes-in-scandal/

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Medscape

Anti-Vax Doctor Simone Gold Sued by America’s Frontline Doctors, the Group She Founded

Avery Hurt

November 10, 2022

America’s Frontline Doctors is suing one of its founders in a battle for control over the controversial group, which gained national notoriety for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 treatments and vaccines during the pandemic.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/983869

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