HIGHLAND PARK (WWJ/AP) – The former emergency manager in Highland Park is facing criminal charges again after the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s decision and reinstated the case.
Arthur Blackwell II is accused of taking $264,000 in unauthorized payments and refusing to turn over records. A Wayne County judge dismissed the case in 2011, but the appeals court says there’s enough evidence to hold a trial.
WWJ Newsradio 950 has obtained a copy of the decision, which was issued Tuesday.
Blackwell insists most payments were proper, although a jury in a civil trial last year said he had violated his duties.
Blackwell is facing charges of embezzlement, embezzlement by a public officer, misconduct in office, refusal to deliver money to successor in office, and failure to safe keep public monies.
In 2005, Gov. Jennifer Granholm appointed Blackwell to oversee Highland Park’s finances. Blackwell promised to work for just $1 a year.
But after time, Blackwell says he told state officials that he couldn’t do the job for just $1 a year. He has said the $1 salary was only supposed to pertain to his first year in office, not for the length of his term.
According to court documents, Blackwell said his contract was renegotiated in 2008, something he said Granholm verbally agreed to.
According to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, a state audit found 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.
The audit also found, however, that Blackwell allegedly wrote himself checks from the city of Highland Park amounting to $264,000. At the time, the city was facing a $16 million deficit.
Blackwell has said he believes he was entitled to the $264,000 as back pay dating to 2006, when his $1 supposedly expired. He has maintained his innocence.
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