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Former Wilmington City Council president indicted on ‘profiteering’ charges

Former Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory (WHYY, File)

Former Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory (WHYY, File)

Former Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory has been indicted following accusations that he earmarked grant money for a nonprofit he ran immediately after leaving office.

A Wilmington grand jury indicted Gregory Monday on charges of profiteering and official misconduct. The Delaware Department of Justice accused Gregory of using his position as leader of City Council to “enrich both himself and a nonprofit that he founded.”

That nonprofit, Students Disabilities Advocates, was awarded $40,000 in city grant money after Gregory was replaced by now-Council President Hanifa Shabazz. Students Disabilities Advocates was founded by Gregory to support parents and students who have special needs or are homeless.

According to the complaint, Shabazz told investigators that Gregory said the money was earmarked for the nonprofit. She interpreted that to mean they were “locked in,” the complaint says. The complaint also says Shabazz thought Gregory was leading SDA as a pro bono effort, not realizing he was being paid from the grant.

Last year, a state auditor’s report found that Gregory violated ethics rules. “City monies that were appropriated initially by him and signed off by the person that took his position went to him, so, in essence, you’re appropriating money that goes to yourself,” then-Auditor Tom Wagner said last year. “You don’t have to have a law degree to realize that that’s filled with conflicts of interests.”

The audit also faulted Shabazz for not making any inquiries to avoid a conflict of interest.

In April, Gregory admitted to the Wilmington Ethics Commission that his activity was a violation of city code.

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