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Downtown Jackson Partners yet to decide operational control as Allen fights charges

BEN ALLEN

BEN ALLEN

By TED CARTER

The governing board of Downtown Jackson Partners has not decided how the agency will be run as DJP President Ben Allen  fights an indictment on multiple counts of theft and embezzlement.

Nor has DJP’s policy board decided whether the agency will cover Allen’s legal fees, though it has pledged to “vigorously fight” to clear Allen.

“We have not reached or answered those questions as an agency,” said Steve Davis, a downtown Jackson architect and vice chair of the DJP Executive Committee, in an email.

“This legal process has barely started,” he added, but emphasized the committee “has trust…Ben Allen will be exonerated of all charges.”

The committee said it views the charges against Allen as an unjustified attack on all of downtown Jackson’s businesses and residents.

Allen, a former Jackson City Council member who has headed DJP since 2008, is accused of stealing nearly $55,000 of the public-private partnership’s money and misusing another $190,000 in a 10-count Hinds County indictment unsealed Wednesday. Authorities released Allen Wednesday on a $50,000 bond.

No one answered the phone at the agency’s offices Thursday.

The Executive Committee said in a press statement Allen has “conducted himself with complete integrity and honesty.”

Downtown Jackson Partners assesses a fee on property owners in a 65-block area to promote the city’s center. The group reported nearly $1 million in revenue in the year that ended Sept. 30, 2014, paying Allen $150,000.

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