D.C. Government Claims Nonprofit Used Grant Money to Open Strip Club

WASHINGTON - The D.C. government is suing a non-profit group to get back nearly $330,000 in grant money given for a job-training facility that was instead allegedly used to build a strip club.

The suit claims the director of "Miracle Hands" improperly billed the city for work that was never done. It also claims that Director Cornell Jones used the money to open the Stadium Club venue.

The lawsuit contends the money was supposed to be used to build a job-training facility for people with HIV/AIDS. The city expected the facility -- to be constructed in an old warehouse -- to open in 2007.

Instead, the civil complaint charges that Miracle Hands changed the so-called site of its job-training facility from one building to another, it continued to submit invoices for renovation work at the original location.

The establishment at that location secured a nightclub liquor license in August 2006. The Stadium Club opened in 2007 in the spot. After that, Miracle Hands began billing the district for renovations at the second location, the suit alleges.

The office of the attorney general "will continue to be relentless in our efforts to recover government funds from those who have unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of the District of Columbia," D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan said in a statement.

The complaint seeks damages and penalties worth $1 million.

Jones could not be reached for comment.

The mission of Miracle Hands, according to its website, is to "implement strategies and programs designed to meet the needs of the city's most under-privileged and neglected communities."

"With funding from local and federal government agencies, Miracle Hands has proudly and effectively served those populations whom many describe as the most difficult populations to reach and effect change."

Its address on the website is listed as the same where the strip club is located. It notes its programs are funded by the D.C. Department of Health, and it has an annual budget of $1.5 million.

The website adds, "Miracle Hands has over 30,000 square feet of warehouse space available for a variety of uses and applications."