Broward News

Deerfield Beach Commission Candidate Accused of Having Shady Past Using Public Funds

Deerfield Beach is holding a special election on July 19 to replace former District 2 Commissioner Sylvia Poitier -- who's facing five misdemeanor counts of falsifying public documents -- and out of the four qualified candidates, one has already been accused of abusing public funds.

The Rev. Anthony L. Davis -- a former Pompano Beach police officer, BSO deputy, and current church pastor -- has been accused of qualifying for Community Development Block Grant funding by falsely stating on his application that he and his wife did not have any real property as assets.

In fact, an internal control review of the city's community development division by forensic auditor Kessler International found that Davis and his wife were majority owners of one property and owners of four others.

That review led Chaz Stevens -- "Best Gadfly" in New Times' 2010 Best Of edition -- to file a complaint against Davis and his wife to the Broward State Attorney's Office, alleging they made false statements to obtain property of credit.

Here's the rundown of how the Davises' grant process went down, as first reported by New Times more than a year ago:

In 2005, Davis and his wife, Margaret, had applied through the Community Development Block Grant to have improvements made to their bathroom that would make it more accessible to their daughter, who has a disability.

Among [Community Development Division contractor] Beth Kofsky's tasks, she was to ensure that the Davises qualified for a program that's designed to benefit low-income families. At a minimum, that means scrutinizing the couple's personal tax returns.

The Davises' IRS filings from that year, however, show that they reported more than $46,000 in income, meaning they rated as "moderate," not "low" income. That alone should have been enough to disqualify them, based on what the audit found.

The Davises are associated with a number of other local corporations, but there's no indication that Kofsky contacted the treasurers of those corporations to get a certified report about whether those were a source of additional income for the couple. In addition, the audit found that Kofsky had neglected to account for the Davises' ownership interest in other local properties.

Asked why she qualified the Davises for bathroom improvements, Kofsky said that she didn't have a clear memory of that particular contract. She pointed out, "The city has the final say on income qualification."

If it wasn't the city's fault, Kofsky speculated that the client (the Davises in this case) may have been to blame. "If people don't give information accurately on their application... we don't assume the role of FBI," she said. "We have to rely on people who apply to be truthful."
New Times asked Davis last week if he could respond to the accusation that he omitted information about his assets from the grant application.

Davis said there was an inquiry from the Broward Sheriff's Office -- Davis' former employer -- but he said they found no wrongdoing on his behalf.

Kessler, however, was never given the chance to review the information Davis says he gave to the BSO before while the Kessler report was being compiled.

When the auditor discovered questionable spending of other grant money received by Davis, Kessler asked for the books on the Brotherly Love King's Table Community Development.

Davis responded to Kessler by saying he "cannot shut down operations to locate five years worth of records," the report says.

He later later told the auditor that his attorney advised him not to provide records that "compromise our agency or staff's personal security," according to the report.

Nothing ever came from the State Attorney's Office in regard to Stevens' complaint, and Davis tells New Times he didn't list his properties as assets on the application -- dated December 5, 2006 -- because he didn't own said properties at that time.

According to the Broward County Property Appraiser's Office, Davis currently owns three other properties besides the home that was remodeled with the grant.

He filed quitclaim deeds on two of those properties -- both of which he owned before December 2006 -- a few months before applying for the grant, but Davis and his wife have remained listed as owners of the properties ever since.

The other is a unit at the Evergreen Lakes Condominiums in Coconut Creek of which Davis and his wife have retained 70 percent ownership since November 2005.

None of those properties made an appearance on the application for the grant.

Aside from this, Davis repeatedly denied to New Times that his association with the former Community Development Block Grant director for the city, Stephanie McMillian, influenced his acquisition of the CDBG funds.

We ask because McMillian -- who is related to former Commissioner Sylvia Poitier -- was listed as an officer of the Davises' Brotherly Love King's Table Community Development Corp. in a 2007 corporate filing.

But now Davis is running for Deerfield Beach commissioner, a spot vacated by the criminally charged Poitier -- whom the report alleges his ties to.

In the meantime, without any formal investigation, the allegations against Davis remain just allegations.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley