Investigation of Johnson's St. HOPE Moves to Justice Dept.

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, September 5, 2008

The inspector general of the program that oversees Americorps has been looking at whether Johnson’s St. HOPE misused federal funds.  The non-profit received several hundred thousand dollars over three years for its after-school, inner-city volunteer program, HoodCorps.
Former St. HOPE employees have told KXJZ that investigators have been looking into whether HoodCorps members faced mandatory religious, exercise and political activities.
Inspector General Gerald Walpin won’t talk specifically about an investigation – or even confirm one exists.  But he told KXJZ last month that in general, the terms of any grant – and the constitution – must be followed to a tee.
Walpin: “We are very careful not to involve corporation funds in any violation of the First Amendment.”
In a statement, Johnson said he hasn’t seen the report, but he’s confident that it’ll only show administrative mistakes that St. HOPE has already acknowledged.  He says he and St. HOPE will continue to cooperate fully.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento will now decide whether to file criminal charges, civil charges or do nothing at all.