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National Conference of Black Mayors calls for director to resign

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ATLANTA, Ga. -

The head of the National Conference of Black Mayors has filed court papers accusing his director of running up some $600,000 in questionable business expenses.  Twenty-one mayors across the nation are now calling for the resignation of Vanessa Williams. 

FOX 5 senior I-Team reporter Dale Russell first broke the story of the Atlanta-based political organization's staggering debt.  Auditors who are well aware of that debt have uncovered an eye-opening shopping list that includes everything from Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany's to private school tuition.

The FOX I-Team's previous report detailed how the National Conference of Black Mayors left a trail of debt across the country.  Angry vendors, years of unpaid bills, bounced checks, court judgments, and tax liens, totaling nearly $1 million.  

Executive director Vanessa Williams blamed the debt on embezzlement by a former board member. But during their most recent convention in Atlanta, the board elected Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson as its new president, and created a task force to investigate the debt.

As board president, Mayor Johnson sued Vanessa Williams, saying she wouldn't cooperate. She filed a counterclaim saying Mayor Johnson was improperly elected.  In July, Fulton County Judge Christopher Brasher ordered Ms. Williams to turn over the financial records.

Mayor Johnson's lawyers say they still haven't received the financial records they wanted from Vanessa Williams. But they did get three and half years worth of records directly from the bank, which they filed in court.  The bank records show the NCBM spent money at Tiffany's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Juicy Couture, Louis Vuitton, ticket broker StubHub, Toys 'R' Us, private Christian school tuition and cash payments to Vanessa Williams and her husband.

Jeff Dickerson, a regular on The Georgia Gang, is the NCBM's spokesman. He says the board was stunned when it saw the expenses.

"One of the questions they want answered, how did this go on? How do they stop it?" said Dickerson. "They want it stopped right away."

Dickerson says 21 mayors from across the country have now signed a petition, filed in court, requesting Vanessa Williams resign immediately.  Dickerson says if the conference can get its financial house in order, it can begin to repay dozens of people it owes money to.

"It will be a chance to pay back the money or a portion of it," he said.

The I-Team tried to get a comment from both Vanessa Williams and her attorney, but did not hear back from either one.

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