- Associated Press - Monday, September 14, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A politically connected nonprofit executive pleaded not guilty Monday to federal fraud charges as his attorney looked ahead to a November trial that could see prominent figures called to the stand.

William Davis, 64, was allowed to go free on $25,000 bond as long as he abides by a long list of restrictions, including on out-of-state travel. His attorney, Susan Gaertner, said Davis “fully expects this case to go to trial” because he believes federal prosecutors lack proof to back up embezzlement claims that stem from when Davis was leader of the now-defunct Community Action of Minneapolis.

“Given the highly political nature of the activity that Mr. Davis is accused of engaging in I wouldn’t be surprised if there might not be some evidence about other folks that are known,” Gaertner said, refusing to name politicians who could be drawn in. “I will be trying this case in the courtroom and not on the steps of it.”

The nonprofit, which provided heating assistance and other social services for low-income people, had Democratic lawmakers - including U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and state Sen. Jeffrey Hayden - as board members.

Davis and his son, Jordan, were indicted last week on charges they siphoned at least $250,000 for personal uses, including trips to national Democratic functions. The younger Davis, a Minneapolis police officer, has also pleaded not guilty. A decision on whether they will seek a joint trial or separate ones has not been made, Gaertner said.



Ellison and Hayden have denied knowing of alleged wrongdoing. Davis also has a longstanding association with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, whose administration conducted audits of the nonprofit that exposed questionable spending of taxpayer money. Witness lists are due by mid-October with a trial date set for Nov. 16.

Michelle Brown, an ex-employee of the nonprofit’s finance department, blasted her former boss outside the courthouse. Brown arrived too late to witness the brief plea hearing, but told reporters she looks forward to testifying against him in a trial.

“I want him nailed,” said Brown, who is still out of work. “He interrupted peoples’ lives. He interrupted my life.”

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