Michigan state authorities have been asked to convene a grand jury and investigate a school district’s secret decision to sell a building to an Islamic organization connected to two of the groups named as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing trial.
The request was submitted to Attorney General Bill Schuette by the Thomas More Law Center, which said citizens gave the organization “information corroborating charges of bribery, acceptance of illegal campaign contributions, circumvention of the Open Meetings Act, violations of approved government practices, … a rigged property evaluation, inside dealing and the misuse of public office.”
“These concerned citizens are willing to cooperate with your office,” said the letter signed by Thomas More Chief Counsel Richard Thompson and Trial Counsel Erin Mersino.
They attached several hundred pages of documentation.
No word was available immediately from the state on what, if any, investigation would be done. And officials with the Farmington Public Schools did not respond to a WND request for comment.
However, Supt. Susan H. Zurvalec said in a statement obtained by the Oakland Press that it was just another effort “by the same group of individuals that has already tried to stop the sale of Eagle Elementary through litigation and lost.”
At issue is the sale by the district of Eagle Elementary to the Islamic Cultural Association. The group, the Thomas More Law Center said, “has ties to terrorist organizations.”
Specifically, the ICA, which owns and runs another Islamic school in the village of Franklin, is linked to several national groups.
“The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan reports that ICA shares direct ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations … and the North American Islamic Trust, Inc. … both of which were named as unindicted co-conspirators/joint venturers in U.S. v. Holy Land [Foundation]” case, the letter said.
In the Holy Land Foundation case, federal prosecutors proved the group worked closely with the U.S.-designated terrorist organization Hamas to fund terrorist activities.
Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR-Michigan, testified in support of ICA during the Farmington Public Schools board meeting relating to the purchase of Eagle Elementary.
The law center told Schuette that there is “a fog of corruption” surrounding the transaction that “can only be pierced by a grand jury investigation and the use of other investigative tools in the law enforcement arsenal of the attorney general’s office.”
Thompson criticized the district’s sale of Eagle, saying the school “sacrificed the interest of their children and taxpayers to bring into their community an organization with ties to terrorist organizations.”
The center approached Schuette because he created a new Public Integrity Unit last year, which said, “Weeding out corruption is top priority.”
The law center accused the district of “secretly negotiating a No-Bid, below-market, sale of valuable district property against the recommendations of its legal counsel, a specially convened internal committee, and district residents.”
The letter said the school “repeatedly rebuffed parties interested in purchasing the vacant elementary school” telling them it was not for sale. However, the district then negotiated “behind close doors” with the Islamic Cultural Association.
Then the district allegedly “misrepresented the status of the property to municipal officials from Farmington and Farmington Hills,” telling people the structure was not for sale.
Said Thompson, “Our letter to the attorney general focused on a catalog of suspicious circumstances dealing with corruption that can best be resolved by a citizens grand jury. A grand jury with the power to subpoena witnesses and compel testimony would ensure that the guilty are brought to justice and the innocent exonerated.”
Among the allegations:
- While the building in 2008 was appraised at more than $2 million, the district sold it for only $1.1 million.
- The school board pressed its facilities committee for a recommendation to sell the building even though the “Facilities Study Team” originally left out that option.
- While many groups asked about buying the building, they all were told that it wasn’t available, except the Islamic group.
- An uncovered email revealed one official telling another, “No one really knows we are having the property appraised.”
- School board officials started the deal discussions in January, but they didn’t tell the public until the end of May.
“The mishandling of and illegal activity tangled within the sale of Eagle Elementary, along with the Farmington Public School Board’s decision to hide the sale from the public’s eye, ‘compromises the integrity of government and violates the public trust,'” the center said.