D.C. Sues Peaceoholics Over Luxury SUVs, Salaries
The District government, which gave gang intervention group Peaceoholics more than $5 million in anti-violence grants during ex-Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration, sued the group today for allegedly submitting a falsified grant application in 2009.
Attorney General Irv Nathan's lawsuit against Peaceoholics and co-founders Jauhar Abraham and Ron Moten accuses the two of understating how much they received in compensation from the nonprofit on federal tax forms, a lie that enabled them to receive grants from the District's troubled Children's Youth Investment Trust Corporation.
As part of their application for CYITC grants in 2008 and 2009, according the lawsuit, Peaceoholics submitted its IRS Form 990 nonprofit tax forms. Moten's compensation in 2006 as described as $63,314, while Abraham's was described as $66,652.
In fact, according to the District, Moten was being paid $98,381.18, while Abraham made $158,301.60—$91,649.60 more than the salary listed on tax forms. If Peaceoholics had listed accurate compensation information on its tax forms, according to Nathan, CYITC would never have given them a grant.
The lawsuit also accuses Abraham of buying himself two 2004 GMC Yukon Denali XL trucks, when he had taken out a loan saying he would buy them for the group. The District is seeking both of the SUVs and at least $616,489.50 in restitution.
Both Abraham and Moten denied the charges against them. For one thing, the SUV's were the same color—a sign, according to Abraham, that the accusations he intended the cars for his personal use is absurd.
"Why would I buy a red one, or a black and a blue one?" Abraham asked LL. "Why would I buy two of the exact same vehicles?"
Both Moten and Abraham compared their situation to that of ex-Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., whose nonprofit also received money from the CYITC (more than $300,000 of which Thomas admitted stealing for his personal use). Abraham concedes that he isn't a bookkeeper, but then, neither was Harry Thomas. "Did Harry Thomas have to submit paperwork in order to get money from the trust?" Moten asked. Maybe not, but LL wouldn't suggest comparing yourself to a convicted felon as a press strategy.
Moten, who supported former Mayor Adrian Fenty in his 2010 campaign against Mayor Vince Gray, says it can all be understood through one thing: hit ABC drama Scandal. The Gray administration is behind the suit, Moten claims, in an attempt to distract from the federal investigation into Gray.
"This is a Kerry Washington moment," Moten says, referring to the actress who plays a crisis consultant on the show.
The District also sued WEALTHY, another nonprofit, for allegedly falsifying expenditure reports in support of its own CYITC grants.
Read the Peaceoholics complaint below:
Photo by Darrow Montgomery