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Click here for more in our series on the Philadelphia NAACP
Two elected officers of the Philadelphia NAACP have gone to court to get a look at the financial records of defunct nonprofit at the center of their claims that Jerry Mondesire, longtime president of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania NAACP branches, has mishandled the local chapter’s finances.
The petition was filed Monday in Common Pleas Court by lawyers for entrepreneur and politico Sydney Booker and Rev. Elisha B. Morris, who have been calling for an investigation of Mondesire in connection with the now-defunct nonprofit Next Generation CDC, founded by Mondesire and which has had a convoluted relationship with the NAACP.
Booker and Morris, who were listed as members of the board of directors in the Next Generation CDC’s last tax filings in 2005, said that board never met and that they had little knowledge of its finances or operations — or that it was doing any business at all until recently.
They are asking the court to enforce a section of Pennsylvania law which states that a director of a nonprofit is entitled “to inspect and copy corporate books, records, and documents” of the organization.
The feud between Mondesire and his board members became public after AxisPhilly posted an article about the nonprofit, raising questions about its finances and its relationship with the NAACP.
In March, AxisPhilly reported that two personal checks made out to the Philadelphia NAACP — one of them a $500 donation by Booker for the group’s annual gala, and another a $10,000 check from a casino venture which Mondesire personally endorsed shortly afterward — were found to have been deposited in the defunct Next Generation CDC’s bank account instead.
That article and others (see “The Phantom Nonprofit“), the petition states “raised numerous questions concerning the legitimacy of the Next Generation CDC as a tax-exempt Non-Profit entity, as well as the financial propriety of its receipts and expenditures.”
The court filing came after Gerard P. Egan and Isaac H. Green, attorneys for the dissident NAACP board members, wrote to Mondesire in April seeking the the CDC’s financial records.
In a letter, Mondesire responded that the men had “resigned” as members of the CDC’s board and that, “your clients as former board members should produce whatever records you need from their own files. If you discover that they kept no records, I suggest to you that they were derelict in their duties.”
“I would appreciate it,” Mondesire added, “if you would advise your clients that they can go to that very hot place which is the opposite of heaven.”
Mondesire, who has repeatedly declined to comment to AxisPhilly about any aspect of the dispute, has until May 19to file a formal response to the court filing. Should he fail to respond, Egan says, his clients will seek legal sanctions, such as a ruling of contempt.
Three weeks ago, the NAACP’s national office informed Mondesire, Booker, Morris and a third board member, Donald “Ducky” Birts, that they were all suspended.
The National Office has declined repeated requests by news outlets to comment on the matter and does not appear to have taken any steps to audit the group’s finances as requested by much of its executive board.