Schuette, Corrigan Announce Fraud Charge Against Ex-City of Detroit DHS Social Worker

Contact: John Sellek or Joy Yearout 517-373-8060
Agency: Attorney General

March 7,  2012

LANSING  -  Attorney General Bill Schuette, Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III, today announced that the Attorney General's Public Integrity Unit has charged a former City of Detroit employee with one felony count of fraud.

The charge resulted from an investigation by the recently announced multi-agency Southeast Michigan Public Corruption Task Force that revealed a former City of Detroit principal social worker abused her authority as a city employee to fraudulently obtain approximately $18,000 in federal Community Services Block Grant benefits offered under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for which she was ineligible.  Investigation began after a referral by the City of Detroit Finance Department to the Michigan Department of Human Services, Office of Inspector General.

"Michigan citizens have zero tolerance for public officials who abuse their authority to enrich themselves at the taxpayers' expense," said Schuette.  "We will continue to work with local, state and federal authorities to restore public integrity to every level of government."

            "Those who game the system will be found out, arrested and prosecuted. It's even worse when a public servant has breached the trust of the people, the department she serves, and some of our State's neediest citizens," Corrigan said. "The DHS Office of Inspector General and its head, Al Kimichik, will relentlessly and vigorously pursue all cases involving fraud and abuse of the welfare system."

"Employees of federal grant recipients are entrusted to act as good stewards of federal funds and must ensure that grant dollars are used for their intended purpose," said Pugh. "Using federal grant monies for personal gain is theft and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – OIG will continue to work with state and local officials to protect valuable taxpayer dollars."

Nellie Lavern Jenkins-Kendrick, 47, of Detroit, allegedly submitted a falsified application for Community Services Block Grant benefits to the City of Detroit Department of Human Services while employed there as the principal social worker.  Jenkins-Kendrick allegedly reported her family income to be more than $10,000 lower than her actual income, in order to receive various types of Community Services Block Grant benefits. Jenkins-Kendrick allegedly filed her application with a City employee who was her subordinate and then allegedly ignored City procedures requiring subsequent approval by a supervisor. 

After the application was entered, Jenkins-Kendrick allegedly abused her authority by approving her own application and proceeding to authorize a total of $18,199.15 in payments to program vendors to enrich herself, including:

  • $9,144 for furniture (approximately $5,000 more than the average amount granted for furniture purchases through Detroit DHS programs);
  • $4,999 toward the purchase of a 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo;
  • $1,879 for home electrical repairs;
  • $1,752.15 for a high-end washer and dryer; and
  • $500 to fund summer camp for her child.

Jenkins-Kendrick was arrested today by law enforcement from the multi-agency Southeast Michigan Public Corruption Task Force.  Schuette charged Jenkins-Kendrick with one count of False Pretenses ($1,000-$20,000), a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  Jenkins-Kendrick is expected to be arraigned in Wayne County's 36th District Court.

Jenkins-Kendrick's employment with the City of Detroit Department of Human Services was terminated August 27, 2011.

On January 4, 2011, Attorney General Schuette created a new Public Integrity Unit (PIU) in the Attorney General's office to ratchet up the fight against corruption in state and local government, protect tax dollars and restore the public's trust in government.  The unit is a member of the multi-agency Southeast Michigan Public Corruption Task Force.  Since its inception, the PIU has filed 155 criminal charges against 26 defendants.  Schuette has obtained convictions in six of the seven cases that have concluded thus far. 

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.