Michelle Spence-Jones Sued For Allegedly Sabotaging Liberty City Project In Kickback Scheme UPDATED

Categories: News, Politicks

Thumbnail image for featurespencejones.jpg
​Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones beat bribery and grand theft charges, and returned to office. Now we'll see if she proves as invincible in civil court.

Two former witnesses in the criminal case, who claimed that she used forgery to divert a $25,000 grant that was supposed to go to their Liberty City community development project Osun's Village, have filed a lawsuit against Spence-Jones. Harlan Woodard and Nathaniel Styles say that she tried to take over the project. When they resisted, she used her political connections to sabotage it.


Spence-Jones only wanted to "control the money," according to the complaint, "and potentially get a portion of said funding as a kick back."


Update: Spence-Jones tells Riptide that the allegations are "so false"-- and calls the suit a smoke screen by Woodard and Styles because they never completed work for which they received payment from the city. "They owe money, and that's what this is about," says the commissioner. "They got paid $80,000 by the city for the project [in LIberty City]. They never delivered the plans."

Woodard and Styles, who own the architectural outfit Kwaku Design International, tell New Times that they first got mixed up with Spence-Jones in 2005, when she hired them to renovate a building for her Cafe Soul.

That didn't end well when Spence-Jones refused to pay a bill, says Woodard: "She must have expected us to do it for free."

The architectural partners would secure more than a million dollars in public funding for Osun's Village. According to the complaint, Spence-Jones tried to force them to go through her for funding and permiting, and to work with Friends of MLK -- the Liberty City charity run by Rev. Gaston Smith, the pastor later convicted of grand theft.

They resisted, which is when, the complaint claims, the commissioner used her sway with City Hall honchos, including Community Development Director Barbara Gomez-Rodriguez, to "maliciously and erroneously" block KDI from receiving payment for various public projects.

The way Woodard and Styles describe it, Liberty City was controlled by something like a political mafia. In order for any publicly-funded project to succeed, a cadre led by Spence-Jones and Gaston Smith had to get a taste.

"We weren't the types to just bow our heads and go ahead with whatever Spence-Jones wanted," Woodard says. "That rubbed her and a lot of other people the wrong way. They were successful in stopping us from proceeding."

"We like money like anybody else," he adds. "But more than that, we like to sleep at night."

Spence-Jones didn't respond to a message Riptide left on her cell phone. One telling document from the new lawsuit: A court server attempted to hit the commissioner with papers several times at her office in City Hall. She "was never in." Eventually, the server gave up when somebody at City Hall told him that she "is rarely in the office."

We reached Spence-Jones late this morning. "My family-- we have gone so much over the last years," she said. "All we ask is that we are treated fairly."

Update 2: George Mensah, director of Miami's Department of Community Development, sent a terse response to this post:

This is in response to the article in the Miami New Times posted online on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. As a journalist, the public rely on the fact that stories will be well researched to give the public an unbiased view of the article.

A phone call to the City of Miami's Community Development Department or better yet, a simple public records request would have provided you all the information about the project in question and could have afforded you an opportunity to make an independent judgment on the absurdity of the lawsuit in question.

A one sided article from information provided by an individual, who obviously has an axe to grind, and not verifying the information they provided does a disservice to your readers.

Since there is a pending lawsuit, I will not go into too much detail on the entire project. I can only say that the decision to cancel the project was made by me as the director of the department without any direction or communication from Commissioner Spence-Jones.

The de-obligation of the project occurred at the City Commission meeting on June 17, 2010 when Commissioner Spence-Jones was not even the Commissioner for District 5 and therefore could not have had any input in that decision. Messrs Woodard and Styles had a $75,000 contract for architectural drawings, permits and construction management services for the project.

From September 22nd, 2005 when the $500,000 project was approved (not $1 million as stated by the article)and funding allocated at City Commission to June 17th, 2010, when the project was de-funded, Messrs Woodard and Styles were unable to provide a permit for the project after receiving more than $71,000 of a $75,000 contract.

If anyone should be sued on this project, it is the architects who have been paid a substantial amount of money for work that has not been done. This lawsuit is just an attempt to confuse the issues relating to their inability to fulfill the terms of their contract with Neighbors and Neighbors Association, Inc. (NANA).

This article would have been about the use of the court system to obfuscate issues when they are definitely in the wrong. This lawsuit will not deter the City from pursuing these individuals to repay the money provided for services that were not rendered. We will pursue all available avenues to collect the more than $71,000 of public funds misappropriated by these individuals.

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25 comments
KOKO
KOKO

Plans were produced and the permitting process was started in 2007. Leroy Jones and Michelle Spence-Jones blocked the progress. They are the ones that owe the tax payers money.  All the cards should be put on the table and a speedy trial should be pushed forward. Spence-Jones should stop trying to hide behind the City.

KOKO
KOKO

In response to George Mensah, director of Miami's Department of Community Development You are a liar and you are victim of your own ego and ignorance who has just opened up more damage claims for the architects. You are been Defencsive about the issue because you are part of the team messing up the community. Wait a minutes what story do you want to tell the young once about good character and been a good leader ? Think Old Man! Bring it onTypical. Spence-Jones is constantly being accused of corruption. No secret she rarely shows up at City Hall. She gets paid $110,000 per year to be commissioner. But no one requires her to show up. So she stays at home collecting money. Spence Jones is a liar and was always a liar. She has lined her pockets with payoffs and tax payers $$ If we had a good state attorney Spence Jones would be in jail now. See this is why I dont like black folks not coming together to hold there leader responsible for what they have done. If you don’t stand for something you would fall for something. So I think it's time for Liberty City to change Ok! Look what has Spence Jones done for the community? the answer is No. But the Osun's Village Project would have brought a great revenue to the community. Liberty City has alot of Rich History look back at the 60's alot of black and white celebrity came in right there into the community to enjoy and have fun but now they are not willing to come in not even the tourist would love to come into Liberty City.We need a change Ok period end of story.

KOKO
KOKO

In response to George Mensah, director of Miami's Department of Community DevelopmentSpence jones is a lier and was always a lier. She has lined her pockets with payoffs and tax payers $$ If we had a good state attorney Spence Jones  would be in jail now. See this is why I dont like black folks not coming together to hold there leader respondsible for what they have done.If you dont stand for something you would fall for something. So I think it's time for Liberty City to change Ok!Look what as spence jones done for the community? the answer is No. But the Osun's Village Project would have brought a great revenue to the community. Liberty City has alot of Rich History look back at the 60's alot of black and white celebritycame in right there into the community to enjoy and have fun but now they are not willing to come in not even the tourist would love to come into Liberty City.

We need a change Ok period end of story.

Cirroc
Cirroc

Mr. Mensah is a liar that is a victim of his own ego and ignorace who has just openned up more damage claims for the architects. Bring it on.

KOKO
KOKO

SHE IS A VIMPIRE

IMANI
IMANI

SHE IS GUILTY THE STATE ATTORNEY BETTER DO RIGHT THIS TIME

IS TIME FOR JUSTICE!!! OK?????

WE DON'T NEED HER AS HOW LEADER!!!

KAM
KAM

She is a THIEF!!!!

Juliet
Juliet

how long do we have to have corrupt leader in position? Liberty City need a change OK!!!

Spence JOnes as stepped on the wrong toe and she as to leave we dont need her. The Osun's Village Project is what we need.

IFATOKUN
IFATOKUN

LIBERTY CITY NEED A CHANGE AND THIS OSUN'S VILLAGE PROJECT IS THE BEST FOR THE COMMUNITY. I HAVE SEEN ALL THERE PROGRAMMING AND IS OF THE BEST IN SOUTH FLORIDA UNITING THE PEOPLE TOGETHER.

SPENCE JONES OR WHATEVER YOU CALL IT GUILTY AND SHE MUST PAY FOR IT

ADAMS
ADAMS

SHE IS FOOL OF S***

MICHEAL
MICHEAL

This project is a sacred project and it would change the lifes of our yound soul coming. Let the truth prevail.SHE IS A THIEF AND SHE IS GUILTY

SHE AS TO LEAVE THE SIT

LIBERTY CITY DON'T NEED A CORRUPT LEADER

Arian
Arian

Spence Jones Needs to sit at home and stop been a bad leader.Am so sorry for this two individual that have great project and she is blocking from doing it.I am sure if this project actualize Liberty City Would change for betterIt's time for justice.SHE IS GUILTY THIS TIME

Corinna
Corinna

Liberty City Needs a good leader and Spence Jone is not the right personShe as stepped on several person toe and is pay back time

She is Fool of S***

Ifa
Ifa

Typically.Spence Jones is a Corrupt Comm. and we dont neet that in Liberty City. She needs to leave the sit and let this two individual who have great plan do there thing and change the community.Look, how many tourist comes to the community? the answer is NO! Because is not welcoming and is Getto!!! If the Osun's Village was in place we would have allot of tourist in and business would be booming.

She needs to sit her A** HomeIs time for JusticeShe is GUILTY. 

Oloye
Oloye

This comm. is so fool of it, she need to sit home and let the right leader come in to bring the community up. Liberty City is like a dead end no tourist wants to go there why because is GETTO! There as to be a change, until this comm. leave the sit that is when Liberty City is going to be in a better shape. We are so tired of angry Leaders, who don't have plans for the young onces. Osun's Village Project would change the look of Liberty City Locally and Internationallly and then put on the map so that tourist can come in and feel free in the community. This project has allot of spiritual impact, I have seen what this project can do and I have been to several programming that they organized is of the first class. Bringing people from all over the world to unite with south florida community.

"This is what we want not stealing"

Adexmegadon
Adexmegadon

IT’S TIME FOR JUSTICE.The Osun’s Village has come to stay and I would say I am a living witness of what this project as done for the community locally and internationally. I just want say it time to come together and let fight for our rights and support the good course LIBERTY CITY NEED A GOOD LEADER, Enough with the greedy Miami Politicians! I'm so sick and tired of hearing about folks who take the oath of public office for granted and who scheme to get their hands on money meant for the public good. Remember if anyone did not see there is a greater being more you.WE SOMETHIMES TAKE OUR HISTORY AND CULTURE FOR GRANTED

P_Nis
P_Nis

This is nothing, why not dig deeper and see how she sabotaged the Carlisle groups project so her friends could get a piece of the action?

Corrupt commish
Corrupt commish

Typical. Spence-Jones is constantly being accused of corruption.

No secret she rarely shows up at City Hall. She gets paid $110,000 per year to be commissioner. But no one requires her to show up. So she stays at home collecting money.

ZamoraJulianne50344026
ZamoraJulianne50344026

Michelle Spence-Jones Sued For Allegedly Sabotaging Liberty City Project In Kickback Scheme...@readers:disqus my best friend's half-sister makes $79 an hour on the laptop. She has been out of work for 9 months but last month her check was $8472 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Go to this web site CashHuge. com

jm_2
jm_2

Obviously this is one ignorant person posting all of this crap.  Same person who can't spell or put a sentence together.

jm_2
jm_2

You can't spell and clearly you haven't a clue.

jm_2
jm_2

I once thought you knew how to think.  BIG MISTAKE.

jm_2
jm_2

You are a piece of crap.  Did you bother to read the update?  Can you read?

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