In Midst of Embezzlement Scandal, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy Gets $35 Million

June 24, 2024, 10:27 AM by  Allan Lengel

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The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy must really be beloved.

In the midst of its former CFO William Smith facing charges of stealing $40 million, the nonprofit has secured $35 million to complete the redevelopment of more than five miles of waterfront, Violet Ikonomova of the Detroit Free Press reports.

The new round of funding and credit comes from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

Wilson, a Detroit area native, owned the Buffalo Bills NFL football team. He died in 2014 at age 95. Proceeds from the sale of his team was used to fund the foundation.

Smith, 51, is accused of siphoning about $40 milion from the the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy from 2012 to 2024. 

In a separate story the other day, Ikonomova writes about the conservancy:

Too-cozy relationships, a bloated 44-member board and a lack of basic financial controls paint a picture of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy as a nonprofit with its guard down, experts say, potentially allowing some of the worst alleged graft in recent Detroit history.

She goes on to cite some of the failings of the organization including: 

Smith had sole access to a Conservancy checking account, which allowed him to allegedly alter bank statements to keep his underlings in the dark about the nonprofit’s increasingly precarious finances, federal prosecutors say.

To read the full story click here.

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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