Embezzlement. misconduct charges reinstated against former Highland Park Emergency Manager Art Blackwell

Blackwell accused of raking in $240,000 in authorized money

Published On: Jul 04 2012 10:19:43 AM EDT   Updated On: Jul 04 2012 05:26:40 PM EDT
Art Blackwell
DETROIT -

Embezzlement and misconduct charges have been reinstated against former Highland Park Emergency Manager Art Blackwell.

Local 4 has obtained a copy of the Court of Appeals decision, which was issued Tuesday.

READ: Decision from Michigan Court of Appeals

Blackwell is accused of raking in $264,000 that wasn’t authorized or part of his contract.

What happened

Blackwell was appointed by then Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm in April 2005 to bring the city out of financial trouble. He promised to work for the cash-strapped city for $1 a year.

But according to papers filed in a taxpayer lawsuit, in 2008 Blackwell's contract was renegotiated for an $11,000 per month salary.

The prosecutor's office's said the Michigan Department of Treasury conducted an audit and concluded that Blackwell was fully compensated for his services when he received $110,000 from April 2008 until his termination from the position in April 2009.

But Blackwell is also accused of writing himself a check from the city of Highland Park for the same services.

Blackwell has said Granholm personally approved the decision to change his pay from $1 per year to $11,000 per month.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Blackwell paid himself $264,000 more in checks written from city funding. At the time, Highland Park was facing a $16 million deficit.

Previous charges dismissed

Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway in January 2011overturned a ruling that found there was probable cause to hold a trial for Blackwell.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy appealed the decision, and the Court of Appeals reinstated the charges.

Blackwell wants to go to high court

Blackwell said Wednesday he is going to take that decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

"I am going to appeal it and I am very confident we're going to be exonerated," Blackwell said.

Blackwell said he  believes the case stems from a misunderstanding.

"It's really a farce, and really it's a miscarriage and a waste of taxpayers money, and that's why I've got to be more explicit in terms of explaining what happened and I've really got to bring these issues out.  It's a contractual dispute and it's always been a contractual dispute," Blackwell said.

A civil jury in a lawsuit did rule that Blackwell took the $264,000 in question.