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Man who fought emergency manager appointments pleads guilty to federal theft charges

Robert Davis.
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The Detroit News reports that Robert Davis, a former Highland Park school board member and union activist, will plead guilty to federal theft charges.

Davis was first indicted on the charges back in 2012.

The FBI’s investigation into Davis alleges that between 2004 and 2010, Davis received more than $125,000 from the Highland Park School District through a false invoice scheme:

More from the FBI:

One scheme involved the submission of false invoices for purchases in excess of $380,000 for advertising on behalf of the school district. The other involved the submission of false invoices in excess of $49,000 for services and expenditures relating to a Saturday educational program for district students. In both schemes, Davis concealed his involvement with the companies whose names appeared on the invoices and concealed the fact that he took a substantial portion of the payments for his own use.

The school system later was found to be in a “financial emergency,” and is now under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.

Davis first made headlines by fighting some of the state’s emergency manager appointments by filing Open Meetings Act lawsuits.

More from Robert Snell of the Detroit News:

Davis will plead guilty to converting money from the school district for his own use and filing a false tax return, court records indicate. He could face 10 years or more in federal prison. The guilty pleas will avert a high-profile Sept. 15 trial in federal court. His defense lawyer, Douglas Mullkoff, declined comment early Tuesday. But Davis wants to keep his job as a union staff representative even though the federal conversion charge prohibits someone convicted of embezzlement from working for a union. He wants U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow to rule he can keep the union job.

Mark Brush was Michigan Radio’s Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.