Former executive director of Cleveland Flats Oxbow Association charged with theft of federal funds

CLEVELAND - The former executive director of an organization that was created to help The Flats neighborhood in Cleveland has been charged with stealing more than a half-million dollars.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland on Thursday said 65-year-old Thomas Newman of Cleveland is facing charges of:
- Theft and embezzlement in federal funded programs
- Money laundering

Prosecutors said Newman stole $583,570 in Flats Oxbow Association funds for his personal use. The organization's purpose is to help represent the interests of businesses and residents in The Flats area of the city.

"This defendant is accused of taking more than half a million dollars from an organization that was trying to improve our city," said Steven Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

A federal information filed said FOA received $393,758 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through Community Block Grants administered by the city of Cleveland between 2006 and 2011. Newman then allegedly wrote numerous checks to cash from the FOA account that were for personal use, as well as using FOA credit cards to purchase materials for renovation of the organization's property on Riverbed Street. Prosecutors said FOA had no interest in the renovations, but Newman's wife had a personal interest in that project.

Appointed to the executive director position in 2006, Newman reported to the FOA's board of trustees and had a salary of about $50,000.

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