- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A federal grand jury has indicted the former head of the now-closed Community Action of Minneapolis and his son over alleged embezzlement of public grant money, according to court documents released Thursday.

The 23-page indictment names William Davis and his son, Jordan Davis, as defendants and accuses them of scheming to defraud the nonprofit, of which the elder Davis was the longtime chief executive. The younger Davis is a Minneapolis police officer.

The charges accuse the men of defrauding the organization established to distribute assistance to low-income clients. They are accused of diverting at least $250,000 to personally enrich themselves and relatives. William Davis, 64, is accused of using the group’s credit card for pricey trips, falsely claiming insurance benefits for his girlfriend and helping his son get checks he wasn’t entitled to for a “no-show job” at a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop the nonprofit operated.

“This indictment charges a former nonprofit leader and a police officer with stealing funds intended to keep Minnesotans warm during the winter,” said U.S. Attorney Andy Luger. “This office will prosecute aggressively those who abuse needed public resources for personal gain.”

William Davis’ attorney, Susan Gaertner, told The Associated Press her client will plead not guilty.

“He has cooperated with authorities and will continue to do so. We’ll sort it out in court,” Gaertner said.

Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said department officials were looking into the status of Jordan Davis. “We just found out about this,” Elder said. “We will be addressing it and evaluating it.”

Jordan Davis’ attorney, Fred Bruno, said Thursday it was too early to comment.

The state severed its contracts with the nonprofit last year after an audit alleged considerable misuse of funds. Its duties to distribute energy and housing assistance to those who qualified were shifted to other similar organizations.

According to the charges, the fraud occurred between 2007 and 2014. The papers list more than 20 trips Davis took to the Caribbean, Democratic National Committee meetings and conventions and other exotic locations. In 2013, he used the public money to pay for his trip to the presidential inauguration.

The indictment alleges that Davis undertook the fraud by using “intimidation and retaliation” to prevent Community Action staff from stopping him. It says he reprimanded, suspended or fired employees who didn’t follow his orders.

Davis has been visible in Minnesota Democratic politics, including as one of those selected to cast electoral college ballots in 2008 and once running for the Legislature himself.

Jordan Davis, 34, is accused of cashing more than 105 paychecks and bonus checks from the organization into a personal account. The $104,000 in checks were in connection to the ice cream shop where he was supposedly working for four years but never did, according to the charges.

Jordan Davis was expected to make his first court appearance Friday. William Davis is due in court Monday.

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