FOX 29 Investigates: City Controller's Community Affairs Director Resigns

FOX 29 Investigates has learned a top staffer in the Office of the City Controller – with a well-known name in Philadelphia – has quit after allegations were made about his dealings outside of the office.

Investigative Reporter Jeff Cole has the troubling story of Jeffrey Blackwell.

It's a late June afternoon, and Blackwell is thirsty. He's just pulled into his driveway, and from the passenger side he grabs an open bottle of Corona beer, sets it down and takes a swig.

We watch as he talks on his cell and pulls on his beer.

Who's Blackwell, and why do we care? Kimberle Holsey knows.

"If you are affiliated with a political person of something like that, you want to do your best, represent well," Holsey said.

"Did he do his best?" Cole asked.

"No, he did not," Holsey answered.

"Did he represent well?" Cole asked.

"No, he did not, Holsey said.

Blackwell is the grandson of long-time City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.

He's also worked for nine years for Philadelphia's fiscal watchdog the City Controller, where he rose to Director of Community Affairs, earning over $90,000.

Holsey knows him in two ways: As a top official with the Controller …

"What does that make you think?" Cole asked.

"It makes me think, you know, integrity," Holsey said.

… And as a contractor, whom he paid more than $1,800 for a new rubber roof.

But Holsey claims he got water-soaked walls, damage and ugly staining instead.

"All of the sudden, I look upstairs in the back room, and water's dripping. And that small brown staining that was originally there had become a big brown stain," Holsey said.

He says photos document the shoddy work done by Blackwell's crew. He claims another roofer he had take a look told him the rubber roof was never laid down.

Holsey claims when Blackwell wouldn't return to fix it, he sued. And Blackwell settled, agreeing in November to pay back the $1,800 in 14 days.

He didn't. And Holsey says Blackwell has not forked over the money, even after a judge ordered him to.

"He has paid me not one red cent," Holsey said.

Blackwell bolted from our camera.

"Jeffrey, Jeffrey, I want to talk to you a minute," Cole said as he approached.

"Not on camera," Blackwell said.

"Nah, on camera," Cole replied, then identified himself and said, "Hey, real quickly, Jeffrey, what happened to the controller's office, man?"

Blackwell walked inside and closed the front door.

On the phone, Blackwell said he thought Holsey's job had been done. He claimed he doesn't have a construction company.

But on Holsey's work order, it says the work would be done by "Jeffrey Blackwell Co."

Holsey says he tried to alert City Controller Alan Butkovitz to the problem by email and having Blackwell legally served in the controller's offices.

The controller's top deputy says nobody remembers seeing the email or legal documents.

But this is not Blackwell's only problem.

In the spring, Lakia Brown, looking for a new apartment with a friend, took a tour. Her guide? Blackwell.

Brown said he took her to the home and walked her through it. "He said he owned it," she told us.

Brown signed a lease with Blackwell for 3236 Hurley Street in Philadelphia, agreeing to pay $700 a month rent. His name is all over the lease, and he signs it.

He later claimed somebody put his name on it, but wouldn't provide details.

Brown claims she gave him $1,400 up front only to find out Blackwell didn't own the place and had no business renting it.

Brown found out when she returned for a second look.

"So, there's a man living in the middle room," Brown said. "He says this is his house, and him and his partner own the house, and Jeff is a scammer."

A man there told FOX 29 he's the guy the women met. He says he broke the bad news.

"I don't know him personally, myself," the man said.

"But he had not control over this property to rent it?" Cole asked.

"No, no, no," the man said.

"He took, you know, some money from some folks?" Cole asked.

"Yeah, I heard about it," the man answered.

"How did you hear about it?" Cole followed-up.

"The girls that came here," the man said.

City records show Blackwell is not the owner.

Lakia Brown claims she was taken: "He scammed me. He lied. He led me on. He took my money."

FOX 29 Investigates has learned Blackwell resigned from his top job with the city controller on June 18, shortly after these claims came to light.

Lakia Brown's mother, Sheryl Bryant, says after getting the runaround from Blackwell, she began calling and emailing the controller, fighting to get her daughter's money back.

She says First Deputy City Controller Bill Rubin asked her to give him the lease her daughter signed with Blackwell.

Bryant says soon after Blackwell handed Lakia her money, and Rubin told her Jeffrey Blackwell doesn't work for the Controller any longer.

In a statement to FOX 29 Investigates, Rubin said, "We don't discuss personnel matters," adding, "Jeffrey Blackwell no longer works here."

Again, Blackwell wouldn't talk on camera.

On the phone, he said his resignation was unrelated to the lease, which he called a "mistake" and claimed "he had nothing to do with," adding Brown got her money back.

He said he entered his house when we showed up because he had to use the bathroom.

And remember the beer?

"Do you drive your car while drinking beer?" Cole asked over the phone.

Blackwell says he doesn't drink and drive. He says he popped open that beer after he pulled into his driveway.

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