LANSING, MI – The Michigan Attorney General is charging a Flushing woman with obstruction of justice and six felony embezzlement charges for allegedly misusing nearly $20,000 in funds intended for her children’s charity for Flint children.
Dian Stephens, 53, of Flushing was originally charged in 2016 with six felony embezzlement charges.
According to a March 20, 2017 press release, Stephens allegedly held charitable gaming events at an area “poker room” called Pocket Aces in Flint. The licenses for the events were issued to Community Kids Martial Arts Science between January 2011 and October 2013. The organization taught martial arts to local children in Flint. It also claimed to offer tutoring, after school and summer care as well as international trips for the children.
“This woman claimed she wanted to help Flint kids, but instead it appears she used her charity as a front to bolster herself personally,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. “This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and instead of facing up to her alleged actions, Ms. Stephens allegedly continued to try and shirk the law. In a city that has already suffered so much, I take any allegations very seriously.”
Stephens was originally charged in 2016 with the six felony embezzlement charges.
Stephens’ next court appearance is a preliminary exam scheduled for Thursday, March 23, 2017, in the 67th District Court in Flint before Judge William Crawford.
In total, Stephens is charged with the following:
- One count of obstruction of justice; a felony punishable by up to five years in prison;
- Three felony counts of embezzlement of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 from a nonprofit or charitable organization; each charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison;
- Three five-year felony counts of embezzlement-agent or trustee of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000; each charge carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.
The original six felony charges were filed in September 2016 after an investigation by the Department of Attorney General and the Michigan Gaming Control Board. Stephens allegedly held charitable gaming events at an area “poker room” called Pocket Aces in Flint. The licenses for the events were issued to Community Kids Martial Arts Science between January 2011 and October 2013. The organization taught martial arts to local children in Flint. It also claimed to offer tutoring, after school and summer care as well as international trips for the children.
After an investigation it was determined that Stephens allegedly used charity funds to pay the bills for her for-profit business and her own personal expenses. She also failed to notify state regulators after the organization’s nonprofit status was revoked and allegedly held seven charity poker fundraisers after the revocation, which is illegal.
An additional charge of Obstruction of Justice was added after a court date in January 2017. Stephens is alleged to have presented a falsified lease to the prosecution as evidence of her innocence. After review, it was determined to be falsified. Stephens allegedly paid a notary to sign a lease agreement that had been created seven years prior.
Additional Action Involving Charitable Gaming
Pocket Aces and two other Flint area “poker rooms” ̶ Gloria’s Poker Palace and Lucky’s ̶ are among several Michigan locations where charitable gaming was discontinued. Since 2014, 14 people associated with the three locations have pled guilty to gaming crimes following investigations by the Michigan Attorney General’s office and the MGCB.
A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.