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Nellie Lavern Jenkins-Kendrick, Ex-Detroit Department of Human Services Employee, Arrested For Fraud

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A former employee of Detroit's Department of Human Services is facing fraud charges from the state attorney general's office for allegedly embezzling nearly $18,000 in community block grant funds.

Law enforcement agents from the new Southeast Michigan Public Corruption Task Force on Wednesday arrested Nellie Lavern Jenkins-Kendrick, a 47-year-old Detroit resident. Jenkins-Kendrick is accused of submitting a fake application for Community Services Block Grant benefits to the department while working as its principal social worker.

Jenkins-Kendrick allegedly under-reported her family income by $10,000 in order to receive grant benefits, then filed her application with a subordinate, ignoring standard procedure that requires supervisor approval.

According to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office, she used $9,144 to buy furniture, $4,999 to purchase a 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, $1,879 to pay for home electrical repairs, $1,752 to buy a washer and dryer and $500 to pay for her child's summer camp.

"Those who game the system will be found out, arrested and prosecuted," said Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan, in a statement. "It's even worse when a public servant has breached the trust of the people, the department she serves, and some of our state's neediest citizens."

Jenkins-Kendrick faces one count of False Pretenses, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. She is expected to be arraigned in Wayne County's 36th District Court.

Detroit's Department of Human Services has come under fire lately for corruption and misuse of funds. Last summer, it was revealed employees spent $210,000 intended for the needy on luxury office furniture.

Mayor Dave Bing dismissed three DDHS employees as a result of that scandal.

A more recent City of Detroit audit found an $11 million grant program intended to provide business clothes to 400 low income job applicants assisted only two people, the Detroit News reports.

Last week, the State of Michigan sought to decertify Detroit DHS and transfer control of its Community Service Block Grants and federal weatherization program money to a new independent entity.

Bing has signed off on the state's request, but Detroit City Council has yet to make a decision on the matter.

Flickr photo by navets.

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