Grand Rapid Press (Michigan)
By Gus Burns
HIGHLAND PARK –Embezzlement charges against Highland Park’s former emergency financial manager were reinstated by the state Appellate Court this week.
Prosecutors charged Arthur B. Blackwell II in 2009 with embezzlement, embezzlement by a public officer, misconduct in office, failure to safe-keep public monies and refusal to deliver monies to his successor in office, but Wayne County Circuity Court later dismissed the charges and the prosecution appealed.
Blackwell is accused of paying himself an unauthorized salary of $11,000 per month for two years and refusing to refund the city coffers $264,000, which prosecutors say he rightfully owes Highland Park taxpayers.
Blackwell initially agreed to be paid the sum of $1 per year for his services.
For years, the Detroit enclave struggled to keep its fiscal head above water.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2005 selected Arthur Blackwell to help the debt-burdened city maintain stability, no easy chore and one Blackwell handled tactfully, says former Highland Councilwoman Dr. June Ridley.
The city is no longer under emergency financial management.
Ridley, who served the city from 2008 to 2012, feels Blackwell deserved the pay and never saw a contract stating he agreed to be paid just $1 per year.
The Court of Appeals decision says Blackwell paid himself $264,000 retroactively, which equates to an $11,000-per-month salary for two years and questions the accuracy of the city’s financial records in relation to Blackwell’s compensation.
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