The Hershey Trust, one of Pennsylvania's wealthiest philanthropies, runs a school for disadvantaged children.
It is financially supported through the profits of the candy giant Hershey Co., and an entertainment and resort company.
But some of the trust's financial dealings raise questions about the management of the core mission: the Hershey School.
William Charney Jr. was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for possessing almost 700 images and 40 videos of child pornography. A vile crime in any circumstance, it is particularly chilling because for seven years he was a house parent for about a dozen boys at the Milton Hershey School for impoverished children.
Facing negotiations with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General after a yearlong investigation, the $7.5 billion Hershey charity for disadvantaged children has hired as its general counsel Philadelphia lawyer John H. Estey, a former chairman of the Delaware River Port Authority and chief of staff for Ed Rendell when he was Pennsylvania's governor.
When Leroy S. Zimmerman was named in late 2002 to the board of the small state-chartered Pennsylvania bank that managed the assets of the Hershey charity for disadvantaged youth, the post paid about $35,000 a year and came with restrictions. Within four years, changes at the state level allowed him to add more Hershey-related boards to his resume - and increase his annual fees to $500,000.
Tom Corbett was mere hours away from becoming the 46th governor of Pennsylvania, when he arrived at a celebration dinner at the Hotel Hershey for donors to his inaugural gala. But the charity that owns the hotel was the target of an investigation announced months before by Corbett for possibly wasting millions of dollars meant to finance the Hershey School.
The just-dismissed top executive of the multibillion-dollar Hershey charity for poor children describes in a court filing widespread financial irregularities at the philanthropy, including the use of charitable assets for free rounds of golf, spa treatments, limousine rides, and excessive compensation for board members.
Zimmerman says he won't seek reelection to Hershey board
LeRoy S. Zimmerman, head of the multibillion-dollar charity that controls the Hershey Co., will not stand for reelection to the company's board of directors, according to a regulatory filing by the company.
They are longtime friends and close political allies, Tom Corbett and LeRoy S. Zimmerman. Now that relationship has an added dimension: Gov.-elect Corbett remains, for now, Attorney General Corbett, and his office has confirmed that it is investigating the $7.5 billion Hershey Trust, overseen by Zimmerman, himself a former two-term attorney general.
The Milton S. Hershey School is also the owner of Pumpkin World USA, a roadside attraction north of Hershey where you can buy vegetables, country crafts, and gourds galore. The Hershey Trust bought it for $8.6 million in school money - more than nine times greater than the property's fair-market value, according to the Dauphin County tax office.
Neither local police nor officials at the Milton Hershey School followed up on a sworn allegation in 1998 that serial pedophile Charles Koons 2d had sexually molested an 8-year-old boy at the school, records and interviews show. Thus, Koons had the opportunity to sexually abuse 17 other boys in the area, until he was arrested in 2008.