Contempt of court charges for Settlement’s Emanuel Freeman

The president and CEO of two of Germantown’s most influential and infamous organizations may face contempt of court charges as early as next week.

The local community group, Germantown Community Connection, and the interim Trustees in the bankruptcy cases of Germantown Settlement and Greater Germantown Housing Development Corporation have filed charges against the former head of the Settlement family of agencies, Emanuel Freeman, for failing to show up for a court ordered examination July 26.

“Freeman has flagrantly refused to comply with his obligations,” read the contempt motion penned by GCC legal counsel Irv Ackelsberg.

The two Germantown Settlement agencies were part of a large network of groups controlled by Freeman for decades, which took the vast majority of their funding – as much as $100 million over the years – from public sources. The agencies provided social services, educational and housing services to residents, but long standing allegations of mismanagement and corruption against the politically connected Freeman lead to local and federal investigations and preceded the bankruptcy of one of Germantown’s most significant empires.

But Ackelsberg and GCC believe Freeman is still dipping into the till.

“He continues to exercise control over substantial real estate holdings throughout the Germantown neighborhood… supposedly on behalf of affiliated entities which, GCC believes, have no legitimate independent existence but rather are mere alter-egos of the two debtor entities,” the motion reads.

According to court records and other public documents, over 200 commercial and residential units built using millions in public funds may still be operating under Settlement subsidiaries not included in the bankruptcy case.

Likening Freeman to a fox in a henhouse when it came to managing public funds, Federal Judge Stephen Raslavich, ordered the liquidation of all assets related to Settlement and GGHDC in November, 2010. Last month he ordered Freeman to produce documents clarifying the ownership of these properties and to sit for a court deposition on the subject.

Freeman refused to comply with the order in a letter to the Trustee for the Germantown Settlement case, Terry Dershaw, which was received the day before the scheduled deposition on Tuesday.

The joint contempt motion requests an expedited hearing as early as next week.

Emanuel Freeman could not be reached for comment.

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