Veterans' center hearing delayed

Nancy Cook

A Wednesday hearing involving an embattled North Charleston shelter for homeless veterans was postponed because the defendant's attorney, a state representative, was in legislative session in Columbia.

Nancy Cook, former director of the Good Neighbor Center, sued the shelter and three members of its board of directors in June, accusing them of breaching her contract and fraud, according to the lawsuit filed in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas.

Cook demanded a jury trial to recoup $10,000 in unpaid wages and benefits, plus attorney fees and unspecified damages, according to the suit.

Cook was fired from the 32-bed, taxpayer-supported facility in May after an investigation by The Post and Courier revealed that she used the shelter's money to support her own lifestyle. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in August demanded repayment of more than $122,000 the shelter misspent under Cook's direction.

The hearing will be rescheduled when the board president's attorney, S.C. Rep. J. Seth Whipper, a Charleston Democrat, is available.

Cook's attorney, Gregg Meyers, had asked the court to dismiss the counter-claim of board President Bobby Knight.

In his counter-claim, Knight seeks unspecified damages, saying Cook's suit against the shelter "defamed and impugned" his reputation. He said the shelter owes Cook no money.

The other two board members named in Cook's suit, who resigned from the board in the fall, filed a separate counter-claim saying Cook was the "sole point of contact" between the shelter and the VA, the center's primary funding source.

"Cook used that limited chain of communication as an opportunity to misappropriate substantial funds not only for her own benefit, but for the benefit of her friends and family," according to their counter-claim.

Cook used the shelter's money to pay personal taxes and a personal loan and to write checks payable to "cash" with no accounting, the counter-claim says. That spending was the focus of a July story in The Post and Courier.

The counter-claim, filed by former board members Kathleen Bounds and Gerry Poston, demands that Cook reimburse the shelter for money she spent improperly and that she be held liable for any of the shelter's debts "improperly obligated."

Cook denied being the sole point of contact with the VA and all allegations of misspending, according to her answer to the former board members' counter-claim.