Sunday, June 02, 2013

Star Report Says Nonprofit Head Indicted In Indy Land Bank Fraud Scheme Had History Of Fraud And Forgery

David Johnson is one of five men facing indictment by the U.S. Attorney's Office for participation in a scheme with members of Mayor Greg Ballard's administration to defraud the City of Indianapolis' Land Bank program. He's the executive director of the Indiana Minority AIDS Coalition ("IMAC"), which supposedly assists low-income minorities afflicted with HIV/AIDS in obtaining affordable housing and other needs. The Star's Tony Cook reports today that Johnson has a long history of engaging in criminal activity, including stealing checks from employers to make deposits in his personal bank accounts, creating fake IDs to obtain loans and even using a false identity to obtain a root canal from a dentist.
Despite a criminal past that includes convictions for forgery, theft and fraud, David Johnson became a key participant in the city of Indianapolis’s effort to redevelop vacant homes in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
His organization, Indiana Minority AIDS Coalition, bought 37 properties for as little as $1,000 each through the city’s land bank program, which is intended to put abandoned properties into the hands of responsible owners.
Now, Johnson is one of five men facing a federal indictment for participating in an alleged fraud and kickback scheme involving some of those properties.
Johnson, 47, is accused of providing kickbacks to the city’s land bank manager, Reggie Walton, as part of a money-making plot under which his Minority AIDS Coalition and another group took advantage of rules favoring nonprofits to buy properties from the city on the cheap, then quickly sell them to for-profit investors.
Those accusations, coupled with Johnson’s long white-collar crime history, raise new questions about how the city vets those with whom it does business.
Ballard's spokesman, Marc Lotter, claims the administration does a thorough job of vetting nonprofit organizations that do business with the city, such as checking to see if it is registered with the IRS, has a stated mission, has been in business for at least a year, is financially stable and current in the payment of its taxes. That's a pretty low threshold. I tried to find tax returns and other information about the organization online. IMAC's website is devoid of any real information and GuideStar, an online service that provides transparency for nonprofit organizations, had little information about the organization.

Cook's report indicates that he attempted unsuccessfully to contact members of the board of directors for IMAC. His report doesn't name any of the board members. According to the latest reported information available on GuideStar, the nonprofit has a five-member board that included Paul Bateman, the former Indianapolis City-County Councilor who recently pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to defraud a local physician out of nearly $2 million. Other members listed include: Dr. Elaine Walters; Dr. Ruth Rogers-Lambert; Terri Ford; and Ashley Barker. It lists annual contributions of $4.6 million but no information detailing its expenditures.

IMAC's website lists a number of businesses, governmental agencies and organizations it counts as partners, in addition to the City of Indianapolis, including: Indiana Department of Health; Marion Co. Department of Health; Eastern Star Church; RTV6 News; Chase Bank; Skyline Club; 100 Black Men; National Minority AIDS Coalition; Hilton Hotel; and Nordstrom Cares.


CircleCityScribe said...

"Corruption is as corruption does."

CircleCityScribe said...

I hope that AI makes a public records request and publishes on this blog Mayor Ballard's Offical Military Personnel File to determine why he is no longer a Marine! -DD201 file.