Community Action ex-CEO, Minneapolis cop charged with embezzlement

- The former CEO of Community Action of Minneapolis and his son, who is a Minneapolis police officer, have been charged with stealing public grant money for their own personal gain. William Davis, 64, and Jordan Davis, 34, were indicted by a federal grand jury and Jordan Davis made his initial court appearance Friday in St. Paul.

Community Action of Minneapolis was shut down in September 2014 after a state audit found Davis spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of the nonprofit’s money on vacations and golfing. The audit also discovered the group overcharged state and federal programs for more than $600,000. Community Action was a nonprofit created to provide services to low-income residents of Minneapolis and work toward “the elimination of poverty.”

The allegations

The charges accuse Jordan and William Davis of using at least $250,000 in Community Action funds to buy airline tickets, hotel stays, rental cars and a Caribbean cruise for friends and family. William Davis is also accused of using the trade-in value of a Community Action-owned vehicle to purchase a Chrysler 300 for himself.

Scooping money from Ben and Jerry’s

According to the indictment, Community Action operated the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop on the University of Minnesota campus until April 2011, when they could no longer afford the rent. Ben and Jerry’s waived its standard franchise fees so Community Action could use the store to offer job training to underprivileged youth facing barriers to employment, but the shop was allegedly used to funnel money into the bank account of Jordan Davis.

Jordan Davis was employed as the manager of the Ben and Jerry’s shop from 2002 to 2006, but it was a job he never showed up for. During those 4 years, he allegedly received 105 paychecks totaling more than $140,000 for this “no-show” job.

One more trip on the public’s dime

October 2013:  Minnesota Department of Human Services began to investigate Community Action’s use of grant money.

May 2014: DHS presented findings of its audit to Davis, showing unallowable travel expenses. Davis responded, providing the auditors with false material representations about his personal travel.

June 3, 2014: Davis attended a meeting with DHS personnel to discuss the report’s findings.

June 5, 2014: Davis flew to Phoenix to visit his girlfriend, using an airline ticket he purchased with Community Action funds.

October 13, 2014: Davis was suspended without pay from his position as CEO of Community Action of Minneapolis.

Slush fund

According to the indictment, William Davis developed a slush fund at Community Action using the savings from partnerships with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. Community Action had an agreement to provide energy conservation and weatherization services to qualifying homeowners. If the organization could provide those services for less money than Xcel or CenterPoint, the group could keep the difference for its own expenses.

With this leftover money not subject to the same oversight as Community Action’s grant funds, Davis allegedly told his staff to charge his personal expenses to this slush fund.

‘Intimidation and retaliation’

Court documents accuse William Davis of using intimidation and retaliation to prevent Community Action staff from reporting his misuse of funds to the board of directors. He allegedly issued written reprimands to employees and even ordered one employee to look up the definitions of the words “insubordination” and “loyalty” after they questioned him in front of other employees.

Judge allows vacation

Jordan Davis entered a not guilty plea Friday morning and was released on will remain out of jail on $25,000 bail. The judge will allow Davis to take an October vacation to the Dominican Republic a planned.

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