BOSTON (CBS) — It was money meant for the poor, but one man is accused of stealing $750,000 from the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center in Dorchester.
Nzeribe McKenzie, 33, was in court on Wednesday facing charges he stole money from the center from 2001 to 2008 while he worked as a payroll consultant.
Prosecutors say McKenzie used the money to buy luxury cars including Lamborghinis, Mercedes, a Cadillac and a Lincoln Navigator. They say he also was using the money to live in a $790,000 Cambridge penthouse.
WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton reports.
Prosecutors say the theft drove the center into debt and virtual financial ruin. The center, which sees nearly 53,000 patients a year, is planning to fight to get the money back.
“It’s outrageous and emotionally draining for all of us here,” said Dr. Chidi Achebe, who noticed the financial irregularities three years ago when he was hired as president to revamp the fledgling health center. At the time the center was $3 million in debt. Now, Dr. Achebe says that’s down to $450,000.
“When we got here we were faced with insurmountable challenges. A lot people thought we should close the place,” he said.
The center has been able renovate its space thanks to donations.
McKenzie was released on $7,500 cash bail. He was ordered to turn in his passport and stay away from the center.
He has a pretrial hearing set for July 11.