Gentle Winds Project loses assets in AG deal

Portsmouth Herald/August 15, 2006
By Deborah McDermott

Kittery, Maine -- The Gentle Winds Project is no longer able to operate in the state of Maine, must liquidate all of its assets for distribution to its customers and eventually to mental-health agencies, and several directors must pay penalties, in an agreement reached recently with the Maine Attorney General's office.

But in a statement issued on Friday, the Kittery-based organization sounds anything but contrite, saying that despite the settlement, "volunteer efforts to provide free use of their technology will continue in all other 49 states and every country throughout the globe."

The attorney general's office and Gentle Winds, as well as its six directors, who were all sued separately, filed a consent decree Aug. 9 with York County Superior Court, and are awaiting a judge's signature approving the deal.

The attorney general's office had initially filed suit on June 29.

Gentle Winds is described on its Web site as a "healing organization" that offers instruments such as a healing puck, a rainbow puck, a healing bar and a healing arc accelerator. The decree mandates that the organization no longer makes claims that the instruments are beneficial in any manner.

Further, directors Carol Miller, Mary Miller, Shelbourne Miller, John Miller, Joan Carriero and Pamela Ranheim all agreed that they breached their fiduciary responsibility to the organization in a variety of ways. These include failure to keep certain records, bookkeeping violations and approval of GWP funds for the upkeep of personal property in their own names.

John and Mary Miller are liable to pay civil penalties of $20,000 for violations of the state's Unfair Trade Practices Act, and all the directors agreed to pay $30,000 to the attorney general's office for the cost of investigation and attorney's fees.

The decree mandates that The Gentle Winds Project liquidate all its assets, which include a building at 10 Prince Ave., Kittery, assessed at $440,500, and The Gentle Winds Retreat in Durham, assessed at $879,500.

Proceeds will first go to creditors and employees, secondly to any eligible consumer who purchased instruments since 2003, and thirdly, if money is still available, to a "Maine charity whose charitable mission is to assist those with mental health disabilities."

"We're very pleased with this resolution," said Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Silsby. "We feel that it provides relief to consumers and gives restitution to a real charity that is the business of helping people who are mentally ill."

Meanwhile, the Gentle Winds Project statement indicates it will still be around, providing help to "people around the globe who feel the instruments may have been helpful in alleviating emotional distress."

The organization, the statement says, is a victim of former customers, some of whom maintained a Web site decrying Gentle Winds.

"It is the opinion of The Gentle Winds Project and the individuals involved that they and the project itself are the victims of a classic cyber-smear campaigning," it said.

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