NEWARK (CN) - Federal prosecutors say Women in Support of the Million Man March improperly spent nearly $200,000 in federal grant money and wrote fictitious reports and proposals to cover it up.
The United States sued Women In Support of the Million Man March, Frederica Bey and Delacy Davis in Federal Court.
It claims the defendants spent grant money on a number of unapproved items, including taking 26 Bermudans to a bowling alley and a pro basketball game, and has not accounted for more.
Women In Support of the Million March is a nonprofit organization established after the Million Man March in 1995. The Million Man March was a call for black empowerment and responsibility.
The defendant organization's "self-described mission is 'to create, promote and develop educational, cultural, civic and athletic programs in our society in an effort to enhance and empower the quality of life for the people in the Greater Newark Community'; and its 'goals and objectives' are 'to take back the streets of our communities, increase health awareness, create affordable housing, focus on economic development, improve the educational system, and increase voter registration,'" according to the complaint, which refers to the group as WISOMMM.
The defendants received a grant through the Department of Justice, its Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, to fund its "'Boycott Crime Campaign' (BCC) - a program ostensibly designed to organize and fund after-school activities for at-risk youth in the Newark area." according to the complaint.
WISOMMM and its executive director, defendant Bey, were aware, by letter, that the grant for had stipulations, the complaint states. It required semi-annual progress reports and quarterly financial reports, and the award of $345,325 was "subject to all administrative and financial requirements, including the timely submission of all financial and programmatic reports, resolution of all interim audit findings and the maintenance of a minimum level of cash-on-hand."
But U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, who signed the complaint, says more than $197,477 of the grant was spent on items "unrelated to the BCC's grant-approved activities" in 2006.
"The original grant program director told federal investigators that before she was removed from her position, she became aware that certain portions of those transferred funds were used to cover WISOMMM's own debts, operating costs, or expenditures," the complaint states.
"WISOMMM and Bey have never provided an accounting of how these funds were used or spent."
Prosecutors say WISOMMM claimed in a grant proposal that it need to rent a space for BCC and that the estimated cost of rent and expenses would be $99,477.
However, "These rent-related or facilities fees were wildly inflated from the outset, because WISOMMM owned the space free and clear, and there was thus little or no need for BCC to pay 'rent' for space within WISOMMM's facilities," the complaint states.
It continues: "Nonetheless, WISOMMM drafted a lease pursuant to which BCC paid WISOMMM approximately $76,400 in grant funds. WISOMMM later created a 'lease addendum' for approximately $19,000.
"The lease between WISOMMM and BCC purported to give the BCC complete and exclusive use and control of WISOMMM property at 15 James Street in Newark.
"Yet WISOMMM continued to use that the property primarily for its normal, non-grant-related activities; in particular, WISOMMM continued to use, and charge third parties to use, some or all of this space for banquet or party-type events.