City Desk

Cornell Jones Fights Back Against D.C.

Being accused of being an HIV/AIDS profiteer, of sorts, would make some flinch. But Cornell Jones has struck back. You think he stole $300,000 from the city? Well, now he wants $2 million from it.

Last week, the District filed a civil suit accusing Jones, a legendary D.C. gangster who "went straight" and now runs Miracle Hands Inc.—a nonprofit that purports to serve the "city's most underprivileged and neglected communities," according to its website—of renovating a strip club with $300,000 in District HIV/AIDS funds.

Jones, in turn, filed his own lawsuit in federal court yesterday, accusing the city of discriminating against him and his organization for being black—and also of defamation.

The defamation part of the suit takes issue with a press release sent out on Aug. 30 announcing that the city was taking Jones and his non-profit to court. "Miracle Hands, Inc., and its executive director, Cornell Jones, improperly diverted from the District’s HIV/AIDS program," it said.

In the $1 million suit against Jones and Miracle Hands, D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan says that starting in 2006, Miracle Hands received city money to open a job training center for residents with HIV/AIDS in a warehouse at 2127 Queens Chapel Road NE. Instead, in 2010, the warehouse became a place for guys to stare at boobs, when glitzy strip joint Stadium Club opened there.

But Jones' lawsuit, filed by Maryland-based lawyer Jimmy Bell, claims there's no there there. His name has been dragged through the dirt by bigots.

According to court papers, though Miracle Hands used HIV/AIDS funds to retain an architect who drew up plans for renovating the warehouse Jones eventually sold to the owners of Stadium Club, there wasn't any actual construction, since plans for the project moved to another warehouse before that could happen. The suit says all renovations were done at 2145 Queens Chapel Road NE, a spot that was selected after Miracle Hands realized rehabbing 2127 would be too expensive. It also says that the city got its classes: Miracle Hands hired teachers to run job training courses at 2127 while 2145 was being fixed up.

By 2008, the suit implies, those classes were derailed by racism. Miracle Hands was promised some $500,000 in funding to get their center up and running, but the organization was stiffed when the city rerouted the money to non-blacks.

"From March 2007 – March 2008 the Defendant refused to provide the Plaintiff Miracle Hands the agreed upon funds to finish the rehabilitation at 2145," says the suit. "The Plaintiff’s representatives met with representatives of the Defendant to no avail. The Plaintiff’s representatives were informed that the money was now going to another organization whose founders and people ran the organization was outside of the Plaintiff’s protected class. They were not African American."

Nathan's office didn't respond to a request for comment

If Miracle Hands provided the services it was supposed to, that should be easy enough to prove. The claim that they've been victims of discrimination, though, would seem thin, since the Miracle Hands saga played out under two black mayors. That said, a National Institutes of Health study released in August revealed that black scientists weren't getting their due despite the organization taking pains to avoid discrimination, meaning race bias can be a fickle and complex force.

In any event, if Jones hopes to gain support for his side of the story, he'll want to keep his own offensive biases in check. As The Washington Times reported, angry about the city's allegations, during a radio program, Jones referred to two openly gay District politicians as “a couple of gay guys who sometimes get to acting like little faggots.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • INSIDER

    i dont think he,s calling the mayor bias,its councilman Catania who he is refering 2.the overseer of the health committe. mr jones made a statement about $4million that was forgiven by these same council members who had ties 2 whitman walker clinic. how come they only talk about the word FAG.do anyboby know of any black organization that CATANIA stand up 4 like he do G W. or whitman walker or unity health care?

  • Sally

    @Insider: Your spelling and grammar are crimes against humanity.

  • OverEd

    @Insider - its great to see Jones' family sticking up for him. Thank you Mrs. Jones.

  • normancui

    I have HIV and I am an engineer who works for the largest STD dating and support site STDslove. com. I have to tell you a secret, you can choose not to believe me. But the truth is that this site has more than 1,880,000 members and about 80% members are good looking in my estimation.

    Unfortunately, STD rates soar worldwide and most people with STDs don't even know that they have them. The government should grant more money for STD education to lower the rates of STD transmission.

  • Val

    cornell scum jones and debbie trick rowe are criminals and should be tried as such in the worse possible way. The DC government scum who allowed this poison selling, dream stealing drug scum to get his hands on this money need to be civilly sued as well! If this happened under Mayor Williams watch, he should be sued as well as Fenty.

    Insider you sound stupid just by your piss poor grammar. This is about a no good scum dope slinger stealing money from folk and the dc hiv/aids office being an accessory. This isn't about councilmembers shyt for brains. Most of the ppl living with Hiv/Aids or dying from it in the district are BLACK...Buy a clue and stop defending some of the stench in this world; namely cornell should be shot down in the street jones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Ward-8

    The old convict move, conter-sue then and hope they will reduce the charge or drop the criminal complaints, works some time however, most of the time it want especially when the evidence is stacked against you. His hustling goose is cooked!! Name calling just make then find more evidence.

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