The former not-for-profit executive who allegedly admitted to buying Gucci and Neiman Marcus merchandise with the foundation’s funds has decided to plead guilty to a felony charge of corrupt business influence and repay nearly $38,000.
Trevor Bradley, the former executive director of the Meadows Community Foundation, entered into a plea agreement filed on Aug. 14 in Marion County Superior Court consenting to a five-year sentence, with two years suspended. A court hearing on the agreement is scheduled for Oct. 30.
Prosecutors charged Bradley in March with corrupt business influence and seven counts of theft.
Bradley, 48, was hired as the foundation’s sole employee in June 2011. Its mission is to help revitalize the troubled Meadows neighborhood near 38th Street and Millersville Road on the northeast side.
Civic leaders and philanthropists such as Warren Buffett have championed plans in the area for mixed-income housing, a grocery store, green space and a health and wellness center.
Court records said in the eight months after Bradley was hired, he had spent $170,000 of foundation funds “with little or no progress made in the foundation’s initiative.”
The records said that after board members began questioning Bradley in the spring of 2012 about why only $22,000 remained in bank accounts, Bradley admitted using some of the funds for personal expenses, including merchandise from Gucci and Neiman Marcus, airline tickets and a stay at a Ritz Carlton hotel.
Further digging turned up other problems, including payments to a consulting firm Bradley formed, payments to friends and the purchase of a $378 Dyson vacuum that was shipped to his home.
In total, court records alleged that Bradley racked up nearly $38,000 in illegal expenditures before being fired from the $60,000-a-year job in April 2012.
In the plea agreement, Bradley promises to pay $37,818 in restitution to the foundation. The state has agreed to dismiss all charges beyond the count of corrupt business influence.
"The foundation was disappointed that we suffered the setback we did, but that being said, we are satisfied with the result," said John Neighbours, president of the foundation. "We think justice has been done, particularly because it includes full restitution."
Foundation directors have acknowledged they failed to thoroughly vet Bradley. Had they done so, they would have unearthed something alarming: a 1994 forgery conviction stemming from a bogus-check cashing spree. Under a plea agreement, he served two years at a work-release center.
Bradley “had been on the board of a neighborhood organization, and that caused him to come with a high recommendation,” Neighbours told IBJ earlier this year. “We probably skipped a step.”