- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2006

Two D.C. residents this week sued the president of a D.C. nonprofit group, saying he tricked them into giving up their property for $200 and then sold the land for $174,500.

The lawsuit against Duane McKinney and Brotherhood of Men Inc. was filed less than three months after federal authorities seized his BMW and the $150,000 they found in a duffel bag in the trunk.

In a D.C. Superior Court complaint, Robert Lewis, 70, and Katherine Van Ness, 58, said Mr. McKinney told them their property had been lost through a tax sale and “there was no hope of any recovery.”

In 2004, Mr. McKinney “then had them execute a document for $200 whereby they’d be released for any responsibility for the property,” according to the lawsuit. Months later, Mr. McKinney sold the vacant property, located in the 500 block of Florida Avenue Northeast, for $174,500.

Mr. McKinney, 33, of Largo, is being investigated by federal authorities regarding real estate deals in the District during the past few years.

The probe began last summer, when Arlington County police pulled alongside Mr. McKinney’s car because it was stopped on the side of the road near Route 50.

After finding out that Mr. McKinney had an outstanding 1999 warrant for simple assault, officers arrested him and searched his car, according to a police spokesman.

They found more than $150,000 in cash in the trunk. He told the officers the money belonged to the Brotherhood of Men, a job-training group that repairs and sells old properties, federal court records show.

According to a seizure affidavit filed by an Internal Revenue Service investigator, authorities suspect that Mr. McKinney, through the Brotherhood of Men, sold property that neither he nor the nonprofit group “properly owned.”

In at least two instances, investigators are looking at deals in which the Brotherhood of Men purchased property in the District from persons who were deceased at the time of the transactions, court records show.

Mr. McKinney last week told The Washington Times that the Brotherhood of Men provided job training to disadvantaged youth in the District. But he declined to discuss the seizure.

He could not be reached for comment about this week’s lawsuit.

Last month, Mr. McKinney filed court documents seeking the return of the car and the money, saying “there is no legal basis” for the seizure.

He also stated the seizure “prevents the corporation from carrying out its nonprofit corporate purpose and from paying its ordinary and customary business expenses.”

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