Mary Treadwell, the executive director of Youth Pride, Inc., misappropriated tens of thousands of dollars in federal funds intended to train poor black youths, and then falsified records to cover up her actions, Youth Pride's former director of security alleged in a series of interviews with The Washington Post.
Roscoe V. Brockenberry, Jr., said that over an eight-year period he deposited more than $500,000 in Pride funds into Treadwell's personal checking account. That is at least $144,000 more than she has acknowledged making from all her businesses during the same period.
Brockenberry, who worked closely with Treadwell for 10 years and was her chauffeur and bodyguard as well as security chief, said Treadwell spent thousands in federal job training funds for dresses from a Connecticut Avenue shop, lavishly equipped rental cars, and the use of Youth Pride telephones for long-distance calls.
His allegations add further weight to a portrait of Pride, Inc. as a group of organizations that Treadwell and her top aides plundered at will, while cultivating the image that they were championing the cause of poor blacks.
Treadwell, in a telephone interview this week, said Brockenberry's allegations were "not correct." Speaking to one of two reporters who have been investigating her organization for two years, Treadwell said: "What you have is garbage. You've become a dumpster for the Washington garbage scene. I've seen that you are garbage, what you write is garbage, what you edit is garbage."
"Mary used me," Brockenberry said, at times lapsing into tears during five days of interviews as he described what he said he now perceives as misplaced loyalty.
"I knew within myself she was stealing," Brockenberry said. "She was always taking. I knew it was wrong." But he said he carried out her instructions because "I figured she was the boss."
Treadwell already is the target of a federal grand jury investigation that began last October when the Post reported that she and two top aides stole, diverted or misappropriated at least $600,000 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the low-income tenants of the troubled Clifton Terrace Apartments. At the time she headed P.I. Properties, Inc., a real estate spinoff of Youth Pride, Inc. Treadwell has denied any wrongdoing.
Brockenberry's allegations are new and are concentrated on Youth Pride, the job-training organization of the Pride group. He stated specifically that:
Every two weeks, from 1968 to 1976, he deposited about $3,000 in Treadwell's personal checking account -- roughly $78,000 a year for eight years. In earlier interviews, Treadwell said that her annual income during this period totaled "more than $30,000 and substantially less than $60,000."
Brockenberry said each deposit consisted of three checks, drawn at various times on accounts from Youth Pride, and related Pride businesses. Some were made out to Treadwell, others simply to "Cash." He said Treadwell placed the checks and a deposit slip in unsealed envelopes that he took to the National Savings and Trust Co., where she had a personal account.
On about seven occasions between 1976 and 1978, Treadwell dispatched Brockenberry to Rizik Brothers, Inc., an executive women's apparel shop at 1260 Connecticut Ave., NW, to pick up dresses she'd purchased.In all these cases, he said, Treadwell gave him checks drawn on a "Youth Pride administrative account," in amounts ranging roughly from $100 to $400 to pay for the items. Asked about this, Treadwell said she'd "shopped at Rizik's once or twice," but that the rest of the allegation was "not correct."
For 10 years, Treadwell approved Youth Pride payments of about $250 a month for a succession of lavishly equipped, rented and leased cars for Brockenberry's personal use. The most recent one, he said, was a 1977 Mercury Cougar XR-7 with air-conditioning and full power options.
Although Youth Pride budgets showed these vehicles as being for legitimate business needs, Brockenberry said: "I had the cars for my own use. I figurerd I wasn't getting paid enough and this was some compensation . . ." Once, when I complained to Mary about not getting paid enough, she said, "Well, you have the car . . . .'"
Another former Youth Pride official has said that while Brockenberry had free personal use of an ornate car, other employes could not get transportation for essential social service errands related to their job-training work.
Sometime in 1976, Treadwell approved Youth Pride payment of a $600 long-distance telephone bill Brockenberry had run up -- after he reminded her that she and other aides had long awarded themselves the same benefit.
"Mary got on my case about it," he siad, "and I said, 'You and everyone else here do the same thing, calling Ohio, California, Mississipi, anywhere you want. Why shouldn't I?' So, Youth Pride paid my bill. I felt they owed it to me for my services."
When it became clear that government officials were about to look at Youth Pride's books, Treadwell would announce, "'We gotta clean house,'" Brockenberry said. Then she and two of her top aides, one of whom was Gerald Thorne would "get rid of a lot of records, take them over to Security Storage, and change records and make up new ones," he said.
Brockenberry said that he helped take the records to be hidden to the Security Storage warehouse at 1701 Florida Ave. NW. A Security Storage official this week said that Youth Pride has had an account there since 1972.
Thorne, asked about this allegation, said: "That's ridiculous. I'm not aware of anything like that ever happening. We've never falsified any records. Sure, we kept records at Security Storage when they reached a certain age. That's all."
While previous allegations have concentrated on P.I. Properties, the Pride real estate spinoff, Brockenberry's allegations extended the picture of abuse to Youth Pride, the self-help organization Treadwell helped found in 1967 to provide job training for low income and unemployed black youths. The organization has received some $22 milllion from the U.S. Department of Labor toward the goal and currently has a contract for about $1.3 million.
Interviews with employes who once worked for Treadwell established Brockenberry as one of their most trusted aides.
Sought out and located in the Mid-west, where he now lives, Brockenberry said in a series of interviews that he was deeply loyal to Treadwell while he worked for her, but now realizes she did not have a commitment to the poor.
"The only reason she did things for the poor was to make herself look good," he said. "She once told me she was gonna make a million dollars."
Treadwell, 39, is an articulate and forceful woman who arrived in Washington during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Along with Marion Barry, now the D.C. mayor, she helped found Youth Pride in 1967 and then went on to establish other businesses, including Youth Pride Economic Enterprises, Inc.; Pride International, Inc.; and Sticks and Stones, Inc. All of these became known collectively around town and nationally as Pride, Inc.
Treadwell and Barry were married for four years; they were divorced in 1977. None of the allegations in any of the Post's stories on the Pride group has implicated Barry. Barry has said that he severed his ties with the Pride organizations in the mid-1970s to concentrate on politics.
During Barry's years with Youth Pride, according to Brockenberry, "Marion was legit. He worked in the streets with the dudes. He cared."
As director of Pride Inc., Treadwell emerged as perhaps the city's most visible champion of minority self-help programs, here appearing with the Congressional Black Caucus, there with the top elected city officials, and at least annually contacting city and federal labor officials to appeal for more money.
While heading local poverty programs, her lifestyle included a $20,000 sports car, an expensive Watergate apartments, frequent trips to the Caribbean and speculation in real estate.
Brockenberry said Treadwell's fondness for high living also extended to high-stakes poker games where thousands of dollars were won or lost in one evening, presenting occasional gifts of gold jewelry to friends and political leaders, and hosting large parties for associates, relatives and local elected officials at major Washington hotels.
The Post series last October documented how Treadwell and her aides helped themselves to money at P.I. Properties through a variety of techniques, including double disbursement, checks cashed for services not performed, payroll padding, theft and direct money transfers to other Pride entities.
Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed voluminous records from all Pride enterprises. FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents have uncovered at least 250 bank accounts involving the corporations, and are pouring over thousands of canceled checks, according to informed sources.
Brockenberry, 39 and athletically built, said that his involvement with Pride went to the point that he twice allowed himself to be used by Treadwell to "beat up" people who questioned her actions.
Brockenberry said he himself once dipped into Youth Pride funds, taking $1,800 from an administrative account in 1978 after his home had been burglarized twice.
When confronted by Treadwell, Brockenberry said: "I told her I did take the $1,800 . . . . I told her I intended to pay it back, and I did before I left. I felt I had done nothing wrong because I'd been loyal and honest with Youth Pride for 10 years and in return I'd been abused. I was always there in her times of need."
Brockenberry said he resigned from Youth Pride following the squabble over the $1,800, coupled with his misgivings about his salary and Treadwell's lifestyle. He said he is trying to start a new life for himself and has taken a job as a shoe salesman.
Treadwell refused to discuss Brockenberry. She did say that allegations such as his are untrue adding, "when all you talk to is disgrunted ex-employes, that's what you get."