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Press Release

Former CEO of Community Action of Minneapolis Pleads Guilty to 16-Count Indictment for Conspiracy, Fraud and Theft of Public Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the guilty plea of WILLIAM JAMES DAVIS, 65, for conspiring to steal funds from Community Action of Minneapolis (CAM). DAVIS pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minn.

“Improving people’s lives was the mission of Community Action of Minneapolis,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “Instead, Bill Davis stole from those in need to line his own pockets. The evidence of fraud was overwhelming, and the defendant’s guilty plea to all of the charges against him is a just result.”

According to the defendant’s guilty plea, CAM’s primary funding sources included federal grants administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Minnesota Department of Human Services. CAM also received funding from CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy in exchange for providing certain conservation and weatherization services to qualifying homeowners.

According to his guilty plea, DAVIS concealed his diversion of CAM funds to his personal use by charging the majority of his CAM-paid personal expenses to a slush fund on CAM’s books that was not subject to the same oversight as CAM’s state and federal grant proceeds. DAVIS could therefore instruct CAM’s fiscal staff to charge personal expenses to this slush fund with less risk of detection.

According to his guilty plea, DAVIS concealed from CAM’s Board of Directors that he was using his position as CAM’s CEO to divert CAM funds to his personal use and that of his family and friends.

According to his guilty plea, between March 2007 and October 2014, DAVIS diverted at least $5,000 per year in CAM funds intended to be used to provide services to low-income residents of Minneapolis to his own personal use and the use of his family and friends, including JORDAN DAVIS. As part of the scheme, DAVIS used CAM funds for personal expenses, including airline tickets, hotel stays, rental cars and a Caribbean cruise.

According his guilty plea, DAVIS also used CAM funds to pay for his personal vehicle, a 2011 Chrysler 300. In May 2011, DAVIS traded in a 2005 Chrysler 300 owned by CAM. He then used the $10,079.53 in proceeds from the trade-in of the CAM vehicle and $36,430 in additional CAM funds to buy a new car for himself.

According to his guilty plea, DAVIS also used CAM funds to pay his son JORDAN DAVIS for a no-show job at a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop operated by CAM as a PartnerShop near the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. Ben & Jerry’s waived its standard franchise fees so that CAM operated the store to provide job and entrepreneurial training to underprivileged youth facing barriers to employment.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea, between 2002 and October 2006, WILLIAM DAVIS’s son JORDAN DAVIS worked as the manager of the Ben & Jerry’s PartnerShop. In October 2006, JORDAN DAVIS obtained employment with the Minneapolis Police Department, and thereafter stopped working at the Ben & Jerry’s.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea, DAVIS instructed CAM’s fiscal staff to continue issuing JORDAN DAVIS the full paycheck he had been receiving for managing the ice cream shop. From at least March 2007 until January 2011, J. DAVIS continued to receive his full paycheck, $1,320 biweekly, for his work at the Ben & Jerry’s, even though he was doing no work for the ice cream shop.

In April 2011, CAM closed the Ben & Jerry’s PartnerShop because CAM could no longer afford the rent for the store, and CAM terminated its youth job skills training program.

In October 2013, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) began an audit intended to determine whether CAM was using the federal and state grant funds that it received through DHS in accordance with the applicable contracts. DHS personnel sought documents and information about the purposes of various CAM expenditures.

According to the defendant’s guilty plea, DAVIS sent correspondence to the Commissioner of DHS containing false material representations about his personal travel.

On October 13, 2014, W. DAVIS was suspended from his position as CEO without pay.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation and the United States Department of Energy Office of the Inspector General.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kimberly A. Svendsen and Amber M. Brennan.

Defendant Information:

Brooklyn Park, Minn.

• Conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, 1 count
• Mail fraud, 10 counts
• Wire fraud, 1 count
• Theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, 4 counts

Updated June 16, 2016

Financial Fraud