Local Church Leaders Plead Guilty to Unlawfully Obtaining and Misusing Federal Grant Funds
Las Vegas, Nev. – A local Baptist minister and his spouse pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to unlawfully obtaining federal grant program funds and other felony charges, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Willie Davis, age 69, Pastor of the Second Baptist Church at 500 West Madison Avenue in Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to one count of Theft of Government Property and one count of False Statements to a Government Agency. His wife, Emma M. Davis, age 52, pleaded guilty to one count of Theft of Government Property, one count of Obstruction of a Proceeding Before a Federal Agency, and one count of Misuse of a Social Security Number. All of the charges are felony offenses. They face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the Theft of Government Property charge, and up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the other charges.
A third defendant, McTheron Jones, age 70, also a local minister, pleaded guilty on January 30, 2007, to Theft of Government Property and Obstruction of a Proceeding Before a Federal Agency.
"The investigation and prosecution of Reverend Willie Davis, his wife Emma Davis and Reverend McTheron Jones demonstrates that nobody is above the law," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "The defendants abused their positions of trust by misusing federal grant funds and lying to federal investigators. Their guilty pleas today hold them accountable for their actions. I would like to thank the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and its agents for their fine work and assistance in this case."
Willie Davis, Emma M. Davis and McTheron Jones were indicted by the Federal Grand Jury in September 2005 on charges that they conspired to defraud the United States Government by obtaining U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) grant funds under false pretenses in order to enrich themselves. In 2002, through a non-profit organization known as Alliance Collegiums Association of Nevada (ACAN), the defendants applied for and obtained a one-year $423,000 DOJ grant to operate halfway houses as part of pre-release and re-entry programs for prison inmates in Southern Nevada. Willie Davis and Emma Davis were experiencing financial difficulties at the time, and had filed for personal bankruptcy in December 2002.
In June 2003, DOJ froze ACAN's grant funding following allegations of misconduct. ACAN had withdrawn and eventually expended approximately $330,000. The DOJ Office of the Inspector General(DOJ-OIG) conducted an investigation of ACAN, which determined that Willie Davis, Emma Davis, and McTheron Jones obtained government funds unlawfully and obstructed a proceeding of a government agency. Specifically, they determined that:
- Willie Davis falsely stated in a letter to DOJ and to DOJ OIG investigators that Emma Davis had been hired and approved as Executive Director of ACAN, when in fact she had not been hired in that manner;
- Emma Davis and others received pay for time when they were not in the ACAN offices and were given pay raises not allowed or approved under the terms of the grant;
- Emma Davis sent false materials to investigators in response to a subpoena, including false corporate records and time sheets, and an employment application for Emma Davis that falsely claimed she had no criminal history, when in fact she had been previously convicted of a federal felony offense;
- In May 2003, Willie Davis unlawfully received a check for $2,900 for consulting fees which was not allowed under the terms of the grant;
- In July 2003, Emma Davis and McTheron Jones made false statements to the federal agents who were investigating the alleged wrongdoings; and that
- In June 2000, Emma Davis used a false social security number to obtain a $90,000 loan from Community Bank of Nevada and in the 2002 bankruptcy petition she filed with her husband Willie Davis.
No halfway house was ever opened for inmates under the ACAN grant.
The defendants are free on personal recognizance bonds pending sentencing and are scheduled to be sentenced on May 16, 2007, at 9 a.m.
The case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Justice and the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Russell E. Marsh, Kathleen Bliss, and Steven W. Myhre.