I-Team: Designer Finally Pays Back Boston Youth Nonprofit, Podcast Silenced

BOSTON (CBS) – A well-known, but now disgraced, interior designer has finally paid back a Dorchester nonprofit that serves low-income kids.

Candice Gartley, executive director of All Dorchester Sports League (ADSL), confirmed to the I-Team that she received a cashier’s check for $6,500 from James Swan.

The positive conclusion comes in the wake of an I-Team investigation, which revealed Swan had taken money from the tiny organization, but never provided security lighting. After Swan told WBZ he would return the funds in April 2017, he still failed to deliver on the promise.

During the ensuing investigation, the I-Team discovered victims all over the country owed large sums of money. The I-Team eventually confronted Swan at the Portland, Maine airport after he returned from a trade conference in California.

Ryan Kath with James Swan (WBZ-TV)

Following the publication of the story, designers from around the country rallied to support ADSL through an online fundraising page. The group’s initial goal was $7,000 to cover the debt Swan owed the nonprofit.

However, the designers far surpassed that amount, raising more than $26,000.

“Everything exploded. People came out of the woodwork to response,” Gartley recalled. “It was like we were being love-bombed.”

The I-Team has also learned the “Million Dollar Decorating” podcast produced by Swan has gone silent.

After the WBZ story circulated, more than 20 designers sent Swan a “cease and desist” letter through an attorney.

After referencing the I-Team investigation, the attorney wrote that his clients “do not want to be associated with (Swan) in any manner as it damages their individual brands and reputations and may cause them irreparable harm.”

The podcast web site is no longer available. Reached via email on Tuesday, Swan confirmed he is ending the program and told WBZ he plans to use the material for a series of fictional novels set in the worlds of design and decoration.

ADSL executive director Candice Gartley. (WBZ-TV)

“I deeply regret my mistake which resulted in this situation and take for responsibility for its occurrence,” Swan wrote.

There might have been some extra incentive to repay the outstanding balance. The I-Team learned there was an active arrest warrant for Swan, who lives in Maine, related to the money he took from the Boston nonprofit.

Regardless, Gartley is already amazed about the path the story has taken. No longer worried about keeping on the lights, the nonprofit director has the financial resources to dream bigger.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be here,” Gartley said. “And it was all because of the I-Team.”

Ryan Kath can be reached at rkath@cbs.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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