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Mentor to Deerfield Youth May Be in Trouble Over Dealings With City

The Rev. Anthony Davis appears to be a pillar of society. His charity, Brotherly Love Social Services, mentors at-risk youth in Deerfield Beach. Davis was quoted today in the Sun-Sentinel, decrying how the image of the city's schools has been distorted by two violent incidents, the burning of Michael Brewer and the beating of Josie Ratley.

But now that the audit of Deerfield Beach's Community Development Division has gone public, Davis may have some image problems of his own. The forensic auditor, Michael Kessler, found that Davis filed a false application, qualifying to have $13,657 in improvements made to his bathroom through a public housing repair program.

Davis' application did not list any real property as assets. But Kessler found that Davis and his wife, Margaret, were 70 percent owners of a property on Wiles Road in Coconut Creek and that they own four other pieces of property.

Even if Davis and his wife's land holdings didn't disqualify them from the public funding, their income level should have. Community Development Block Grant funding is reserved for low-income applicants; the Davises have a "moderate" income level, according to the audit.

So how did the Davises qualify? That's a question for Beth Kofsky, executive director of Housing and Assistive Technology in Miami. Kofsky had a city contract to do home inspections of those seeking public funds meant to assist disabled or elderly residents.

According to the audit, Kofsky was to bill the city on an hourly basis, and no single inspection was to cost more than $3,500. In keeping with the tradition of maxing out available fees, Kofsky "always" billed the city the maximum amount, wrote Kessler.

For that price, you'd think the city was getting highly qualified analysis. On the contrary a representative from Kofsky's agency told him that Kofsky had no medical degree or state-issued inspector's license.

(Kofsky did not immediately return a call seeking comment about her role with Deerfield Beach.)

Kofsky was also commissioned to oversee the bid process for the Davis family home-improvement project. But those documents also caused concern, as Kessler found that the fax form of the winning bidder, ES Cummings, "appears to have been redacted with correctional fluid in some cases and changed in others," he wrote. Two other purported bids hadn't been signed by the clients, meaning they wouldn't have qualified. That, plus subtle differences in the the fax cover sheet for ES Cummings, appears to have left Kessler wondering whether the bid was rigged to favor that Fort Lauderdale-based construction company.

ES Cummings' contract called for $12,400 in CDBG funding, but in a twist that is a recurring theme in the audit, the contractor submitted a series of change orders that were approved by Kofsky and by the city, increasing the costs and violating the terms of the contract. Factoring in the payment to Kofsky, the project cost $17,157 in public housing dollars -- nearly $5,000 over budget.

I reached Davis a few weeks ago to ask him about the improvements to his bathroom. He said that his daughter has a disability that qualified the family to participate in the program.

Through his nonprofit agencies, Davis has ties to another major figure in the Deerfield Beach audit: Stephanie McMillian, the city's coordinator of CDBG programs.

In a 2007 corporate filing, McMillian was listed as an officer of the Brotherly Love King's Table Community Development Corp. I asked Davis whether his association with McMillian played a role in his family getting funding through CDBG.

He denied it, saying that Brotherly Love King's Table didn't do business with the city. "About a year after she was asked to be part of the board, she was told it would be a conflict of interest," Davis said of McMillian. "She withdrew her name about a year later." McMillian, whose computer was confiscated yesterday by the city, has refused previous requests for interviews.

My interview with Davis took place earlier this month, before the audit's release. At the conclusion of the conversation, Davis made clear that it would be the last time he spoke to me. "I don't like being part of a fishing expedition," he said, adding that he and his fellow corporate officers had cooperated fully with the city's auditor. "We don't have anything to hide."

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Thomas Francis

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