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The director and founder of a charity-driven sanctuary for exotic cats in Minnesota has copped to misusing thousands of dollars in donations to buy items like women's undergarments and books by Chelsea Handler, according to court documents obtained by NBC News.
Tammy Thies, the executive director and founder of The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minn., has repaid all of the donations she misused for a range of personal goods and services, the sanctuary said in a statement.
The largest reimbursements cover $4,900 for four years of cell phone service and $3,200 in propane to heat her residence, which is on facility property, according to the sanctuary.
In the statement, the sanctuary did not specify all the items Thies purchased. But an agreement filed Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court with the state attorney general's office said there was "extensive use" of company credit cards for "personal expenses," including underwear, a bra, movies, and hair removal products.
The agreement obtained by NBC News also said Thies spent sanctuary charitable assets on two books by late-night comedienne Chelsea Handler — "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea" and "My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands.
“Our donors have stayed with us even as we have stumbled and made mistakes,” Thies said in a statement.
The agreement filed in district court Tuesday said that the sanctuary will hire an outside monitor to help the nonprofit improve its business practices.
The facility opened its doors in 1999. It is now home to more than 100 lions, tigers, cougars, bobcats and other exotic species across 37 acres, according to the facility's official website.