A District of Columbia Superior Court jury found that nonprofit group Miracle Hands, Inc., misappropriated grant funds that were intended for a job-training center from the city's HIV/AIDS program. After the four-day trial, the jury found that Miracle Hands and its executive director, Cornell Jones, owed a total of $329,653 in damages, according to Washington City Paper.
According to the paper, from 2006 to 2008 Miracle Hands, whose mission is "providing basic necessities to families in need," received funds for a warehouse in Northeast D.C. to be converted to the aforementioned training center. Instead, a liquor license from another club was transferred to the warehouse, which was sold to the "politically connected" developer Keith Forney and nightclub owner James "Tru" Redding. The funds were then used to open the Stadium Club—a famous strip club that has been mentioned in popular songs by Drake, Wale and other popular artists—in March 2010, City Paper notes.
According to City Paper, evidence was presented at the trial showing that Jones also submitted invoices for work that never happened at the warehouse. The defendants claimed that the location of the training facility had changed, but witnesses said that Jones didn't obtain a building permit for the supposed new location until the grant had nearly expired.
"The verdict should serve as a warning to all those who would attempt to misuse District grant funds," D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan told City Paper after the ruling.
Stadium Club claims to be a "Five-Star Dining and Premiere Gentleman's Club Experience," but allegations of corruption began shortly after the strip club's opening. In 2010, the year the club opened, Jones, who was also featured on BET's American Gangster for drug trafficking, sold the warehouse, which he was using as his Miracle Hands office, for $2.7 million, according to D.C. property records.
City Paper also reports that the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue seized the club in November of last year to pay the more than $100,000 in taxes that Redding owed on a D.C. restaurant, now closed. The club reopened shortly after the debt was paid.
Taryn Finley is a summer intern at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.