Fired Safe Harbor founder responds to new financial allegations

Animal shelter staff speaks out about terminations

JUPITER, Fla. - The ousted director of Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary in Jupiter is defending herself concerning new charges that she misused donation money.

An attorney for the shelter's current board of director confirms that the board is pouring over the facility's financial documents. But, Kay-Lynette Roca, the facility's founder who was just fired, says the board will not find any evidence of wrongdoing.

"Something I've been waiting for for eleven years, actually," said Safe Harbor veterinary technician Lora Wedeman worked for Roca for more than a decade.

That ended abruptly this week when Roca - the facility's founder - was fired after 28 years on the job.

"I was terminated," said Roca. "Get my stuff and get out." Now that she is out, Roca is talking about the allegations being leveled against her. Roca says the no-kill shelter's current board of directors forced her, claiming she mismanaged donation money. "I'm a lot of things, but I have never mismanaged a penny of Safe Harbor's money," she said. Roca says she feels like a victim of office politics.

However, Wedeman and other staffers say the financial order that once existed at Safe Harbor had fallen apart with Roca at the helm.

"I don't think it went to the animals," said Wedeman. "I feel like it was going to certain people's lifestyles - not the animals."

Roca and several others were let go Wednesday night.

Board President Carol Verdigi is now serving in Roca's place. Some staffers feel Roca's firing was necessary to improve what they say is a 'tarnished' image.

"I know that if somebody makes a donation, they can feel confident in knowing that every dollar will go where it's supposed to go," said Patty Amoroso, Safe Harbor Operations Manager. "I can't speak about the past."

Roca, meanwhile, wonders what will become of Safe Harbor in the future. "They wanted to take it over," she said, speaking about the current board. "It's now theirs. So anything as it goes the other way... I don't want my name on it."

Neither the current members of the Safe Harbor board of directors nor their lawyer will comment publicly on potential action against Roca - at least not yet. The do, though, confirm they are analyzing financial documents from Roca's time as executive director.

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