Phila. NAACP president says what happened to checks

J. Whyatt Mondesire was questioned about two checks depositedto a nonprofit group he oversees.
J. Whyatt Mondesire was questioned about two checks depositedto a nonprofit group he oversees.
Posted: April 10, 2014

PHILADELPHIA Addressing a lingering controversy within the Philadelphia NAACP, chapter president J. Whyatt Mondesire on Tuesday posted on a website what he said happened to two checks totaling $10,500 given to the NAACP that were deposited in an account belonging to a nonprofit he oversees.

In a column posted on the site of his weekly newspaper, the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, Mondesire said a check for $10,000 and one for $500 were deposited in an account belonging to his Next Generation Community Development Corp. but were immediately used by the local NAACP.

Board members Donald "Ducky" Birts, Sid Booker, and the Rev. Elisha Morris this year began publicly questioning the organization's finances and called on Mondesire to answer questions about the checks.

The $10,000 check came from Market East Associates, a partnership seeking a casino license in Center City, and was to be used for the NAACP's ACT-SO program, which encourages academic achievement among African American youth and provides scholarships.

Mondesire's column said $5,000 was "immediately deposited in the local ACT-SO account" and "a substantial portion of the remaining funds" was used to restore gas service at NAACP headquarters, 1619 Cecil B. Moore Ave.

He said the remaining money was left in Next Generation's account "as a hedge against recurring building expenses that we knew were forthcoming."

The IRS revoked Next Generation's nonprofit tax-exempt status in 2011.

Mondesire declined to talk to The Inquirer on Tuesday or give a specific accounting of how the funds were used.

Mondesire said in his column that the local NAACP had approved borrowing from ACT-SO funds to pay office expenses such as postage, a copier, and telephone.

He said, "Additional fund-raising continued so ACT-SO monies were replaced in plenty of time for when our students would be flying to this summer's national convention," scheduled for Orlando in mid-July.

Maureen Garrity, a spokeswoman for Market East Associates, said last week that the group had asked Mondesire to explain how the $10,000 had been used.

She said Mondesire contacted her Monday and "provided documentation that indicates that our contribution has been used for the ACT-SO fund."

"We're satisfied that the money ultimately went to where it was supposed to go," Garrity said.

The $500 check came from Booker, a nightclub owner who raised questions about what happened to the donation, saying that the money was supposed to help cover the cost of the chapter's annual gala.

In his column, Mondesire said that the $500 donation came from a board member who told Mondesire to "fill out the check" except the signature, and that "I should use it for whatever the NAACP needed."

The column does not name that board member and refers to all three who raised questions about his stewardship of the finances as "his accusers."

Booker, Birts, and Morris have said they would have their lawyers speak on the matter.

Lawyer Isaac H. Green Jr., who, with Gerard Egan, represents all three board members, said that Egan met with the Rev. Gill Ford, NAACP national director for unit administration, in January, but that nothing of substance resulted from that encounter.

A call to Ford at the NAACP headquarters in Baltimore on Tuesday was not returned.

vclark@phillynews.com

215-854-5717

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