Embezzlement trial for Jackson developer set for Nov. 28

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JACKSON – Businessman Benjamin Wade Allen III faces a Nov. 28 trial on 10 criminal counts that he embezzled funds or misused property associated with his work at a downtown development non-profit.

Allen, who pleaded not guilty, is free on $50,000 bond after his Feb. 26 indictment by a Hinds County grand jury.

The allegations center on activities associated with Downtown Jackson Partners, a non-profit established to promote and market the city’s 66-block core through what’s called a “voluntary tax” on area properties.

Allen is the non-profit’s executive president and a former Jackson city councilman.

The four-page indictment claims he:

• Took a Downtown Jackson Partners pickup truck for his own and spent the non-profit’s money on its repairs, insurance and tag costs.

• Used Downtown Jackson Partners funds to pay personal cell phone and credit card bills.

• Converted Downtown Jackson Partners funds to his own use: $86,000 for payment to Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber’s inauguration gala and $40,137 for “improperly authorized donations and sponsorships.”

The indictment also claims he intended to defraud by lying and covering up the use of $65,745 for a fraudulent business incubator program and by exceeding legal limitations for corporate gifts to Yarber.

Judge Winston L. Kidd presides over the proceedings after fellow jurists Tomie Green and Jeff Weill Sr. recused themselves.