CEO went on cruise, bought plane tickets using money meant to help the poor

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Hotel stays, airline tickets, a new car, a Caribbean cruise, and a job for his son.

That is what Bill Davis paid for using tens of thousands of dollars in grant funding intended to help poor people during his time as the CEO of the nonprofit Community Action Minneapolis.

On Thursday, the 65-year-old from Brooklyn Park pleaded guilty to 16 counts in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced.

"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."

Davis changed his plea to guilty on Wednesday, saying he concealed his theft by charging his personal expenses to a slush fund on Community Action Minneapolis books that wasn't subject to the same level of oversight as its state and federal grant accounts.

Here are some key elements of his plea:

  • Between March 2007 and October 2014 he diverted at least $5,000 a year in funds intended to "provide services to low income residents of Minneapolis."
  • He used it for personal expenses including airline tickets, hotel stays, rental cars and a Caribbean cruise.
  • He traded in a Community Action of Minneapolis Chrysler and used the $10,079 proceeds – plus an extra $36,430 from the group's funds – to buy himself a new car.
  • He paid his son, Jordan Davis, $1,320 bi-weekly for his job as manager of a Ben & Jerry's near the University of Minnesota campus that was operated by Community Action of Minneapolis. He continued to pay him even after his son became a police officer in 2006.

The fraud came to light after the Minnesota Department of Human Services began an audit of the organization in October 2013 to check if it was using grant funds properly. Davis was suspended from his position as CEO about a year later.

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