HIGHLAND PARK (WWJ/AP) – The former emergency manager for Highland Park has pleaded no contest to mishandling public money for receiving unauthorized payments from the impoverished Detroit enclave.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office says Arthur Blackwell II his plea Tuesday in Wayne County Circuit Court. He’s due back in court on April 16 to be sentenced on the misdemeanor charge.
Blackwell was appointed by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2005 to oversee Highland Park’s finances, and was dismissed in 2009. The prosecutor’s office said 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.
In 2005, when Granholm appointed Blackwell to oversee Highland Park’s finances, he 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.
Blackwell has said he believes he was entitled to the $264,000 as back pay dating to 2006, when his $1 supposedly expired.
A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.
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