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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Third party to control Mad Hatter money

Charity organizers and a disgruntled Russian mother reached an agreement Thursday to ask a third party to assume control of a disputed bank . account containing money raised for the mother's toddler during a high-profile party in the foreign community last October.


The step, which came as a result of mediation, moves toward resolving a five-month old dispute that began after hundreds of foreigners turned out for the Mad Hatters Ball raising $2, 700 for a heart probe operation for two-year-old Nikita Mitraev.


Nikita suffers from a malformed heart; only three of the four chambers function normally. Doctors in the States say children with the affliction usually do not live past the age of five.


Since the party, a slew of problems from communication with the Boston Hospital to questions over how the money would be spent have caused one delay after another.


Lena Mitriaev, mother of two-year-old Nikita, told mediator Carole Frank on Thursday she believes she had been received. "They gave me hopes and


expectations", Mitriaev said.


Although the fund raiser was deemed successful, Mitriaev described it now as "of little use". The hospital, she has learned, only provides the surgery, which costs $45, 000, free to residents of Boston. The stipulation of residency surfaced when the hospital returned her application in January.


Ironically, Mitriaev received a letter last week from a, friend in Florida who had found a heart surgeon who will perform the surgery at no cost. The donation brought her tittle hope though:


"There isn't enough money for the surgery, and I can't get access to it anyway".


The charity's organizers, Scott Nichol and David McConnell, had questioned Mitriaev's desire to have the money deposited in a private account abroad.


"We wanted to raise money for Nikita, and the foreigners rallied behind it", McConnell said. After the party, the money was deposited in his savings account in a Boston Bank. "It was to be kept there for the Moscow Children's Foundation until agreements were made with the hospital. Then the money would be sent to the hospital and used for airline tickets and any other medical procedures", he said during the mediation session.


McConnell and Nichol created the foundation shortly before the charity-party was held. It sponsored another event that raised $700 for Project Hope's burn center. In that case, a check was delivered to Project Hope, McConnell said.


In the first three months after the Mad Hatters fund-raiser, attempts to arrange the surgery stalled because of misunderstandings and communication problems with the Boston hospital, plus disruption in Nichol's life after his business partner was killed in a skiing accident.


McConnell said he too feels he was deceived in the past few months. Accusations about the foundation were "like being knifed in the back", he said. "I feel very disheartened about being involved in charity ever again. I feel like I was cheated out of starting something that I thought would be a worthy foundation".


In hindsight, McConnell said, "I would have formalized everything -- put it all in writing, from an agreement about funding, where and how the money would be spent, and access to it by the recipient".


Mitriaev said, "I wouldn't have been involved at all, knowing all that I know now, that there was no hope of free surgery. Nothing worked out. and there's no way to raise $45, 000".


Nichol, who was out of town on a business trip Thursday, said in an interview earlier this week that he would "welcome help" to resolve the matter. "The point is, the child is the one who will be hurt. There is not enough money to do the operation, but maybe there is someone who can help. Maybe we took on too much, not realizing what would be involved".


Mitriaev is considering other options for Nikita. "Time is expiring. If I can't take him to the United States, I'll have to do something here, or perhaps London". The $2, 700 should be used for medical expenses for the child, she believes. She and McConnell agreed to ask a British woman who is a mutual acquaintance to administer an account.