DETROIT (WXYZ) - A default judgment has been filed against Nneka Cheeks, the cousin of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, accused of diverting $25,000 of charitable funds for her own personal use while working for the former mayor.
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The cash Cheeks is accused of stealing was part of a charity designed to maintain and improve the Manoogian Mansion, the official mayoral residence for the city of Detroit.
The default judgment, granted Tuesday, means that Cheeks could be ordered to pay three times the amount said to be diverted.
Between 2007 and 2009, Nneka Cheeks allegedly had access to the Manoogian Mansion Restoration Society’s bank account and withdrew over $7,000 in cash and made payments of about $17,000 to several local and national businesses, says the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Mike Cox earlier this year.
The Manoogian Mansion Restoration Society was incorporated in 1994 to restore, repair, furnish and preserve the Manoogian Mansion, which has been the official mayor’s residence until Kilpatrick was forced out of office in 2008 after he pled guilty to two felony counts of obstruction of justice.
Nneka Cheeks was part of the Kilpatrick administration from 2002 to 2008. When she became the mayoral liaison to the Manoogian Mansion Restoration Society, Cheeks had access to the charity’s bank accounts until 2009, the lawsuit says.
When Kilpatrick first took office the charity performed a great deal of work on the Manoogian Mansion, but its officers and directors did not actively oversee the organization, the lawsuit says. The last time the charity filed required reports with the state and federal agencies was in 2004. As a result, the state dissolved the charity and it lost its nonprofit status.
According to the lawsuit, the mayor’s office advised the charity board members to resign. After that, Cheeks began to serve as the “mayoral point person” for the charity.
The lawsuit says Cheeks made the following payments with charity funds:
$3943.40 – Pioneer Credit Recovery;
$3590 – Roostertail restaurant in Detroit
$2631.06 – Jewelry Factory in Livonia
$2,500 – Florida-based golf academy Leadbetter Orlando
$1,865.51 – Paypal Payments
$1300 – Michigan Veterinary Specialists
$1140 – Brides Made Fit
$450 – Charles Mok, D.O
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