WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — A jury in the District of Columbia has found a non-profit organization and its executive director with a checkered past as a drug kingpin improperly diverted funds from the city’s HIV/AIDS program in order to finance renovations at a strip club.
Miracle Hands, Inc. and Cornell Jones were hit with a total of $329,653 in damages following a four-day trial, according to D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan.
The city awarded grants to the organization from 2006 until 2008 with the understanding the money would be used to transform the former warehouse into a job training facility for people living with HIV and AIDS. The facility, located in the 2100 block of Queens Chapel Road NE, was never converted for that purpose.
During the trial, witnesses testified that Jones signed a letter of intent stating he was negotiating a lease for the same property to be used as a night club within four months of receiving the grants.
Attorneys for the city say Jones did not inform District officials of his plans and submitted invoices for work that was never completed or had been performed without a building permit.
Jones and Miracle Hands, Inc. were found liable under the District’s False Claims Act.
Jones, known as “the Ghost” during his days as a notorious drug kingpin in the 1970’s and 1980’s, was featured in the BET documentary series “American Gangster.” He was responsible for importing and distributing PCP, heroin, and cocaine throughout the east coast as well as creating the country’s first “open air” drug market in Washington, according to the Washington Times.
By 2010, renovations had been completed and a liquor license was obtained at the building. The property was then sold to a Baltimore businessman and a developer who made substantial political donations to the Democratic Party, including former mayor Adrian Fenty, per the Times.
Stadium Club opened a short time later, providing a pricey high-end adult atmosphere for willing patrons.
The job training facility was never opened.
“This verdict should serve as a warning to all those who would attempt to misuse District grant funds,” Nathan said.
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