Politics & Government
4:59 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

Former Highland Park emergency financial manager headed for 2013 trial

After years of legal wrangling, Highland Park’s former emergency financial manager will go on trial for alleged embezzlement next year.

A Michigan Supreme Court ruling this week reinstated charges against Arthur Blackwell III.

Blackwell was emergency financial manager from 2005-2008. He’s accused of writing himself $264,000 in checks from city funds.

A Wayne County judge had thrown the case out last year, saying Blackwell had the right to do that. But two higher courts—the Michigan Court of Appeals in May, and the Michigan Supreme Court just this week--have overruled that decision.

Blackwell has always maintained he acted legally. His attorney, Ben Gonek, said Blackwell was only paying himself money he was owed per an agreement with state officials.

“The agreement was, Mr. Blackwell would work the first year for $1, and thereafter he’d get paid,” Gonek said. “They were trying to make up the payments they owed him for his services.

“There was an account set up within the city, checks were counter-signed, the moneys were reported to the state…it wasn’t like he was doing anything behind anyone’s back.”

But Wayne County prosecutors insist Blackwell didn’t have authorization, and higher courts have now ruled there’s enough evidence against him to go to trial.

The case will go back to Wayne County circuit court for trial, and likely won’t begin until mid-2013.