Judge orders AKA’s to open up financial books

Judge Daniel Riley said a representative of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc, the nation’s oldest Greek-lettered sorority for African-American women, needs to have the group’s check register, minutes book and wire transfer documents after the group stonewalled attempts to retrieve the records, which a former president on July 1 won the right to inspect.

”For the past week, we have tried repeatedly to get documents,” said Ruth Major, a representative of ex-president Julia Purnell, who wanted to review the information before this week’s national meeting that has members voting on leadership and amendments to constitution and bylaws.

It’s AKA’s first general membership meeting since allegations of wrongful spending amid its leadership erupted. A group of members in June 2009 sued AKA and its president, former Chicago Housing Authority financial executive Barbara A. McKinzie, claiming she misappropriated millions of dollars in AKA money, paying herself more than $1 million in salary and retirement from the traditionally unpaid office.

They also claimed she spent thousands of dollars at a time on meals, limousine rides and jewelry for personal use, funding a project that included a wax statue of herself in a Baltimore museum and starting a campaign to raise $100 million for an endowment fund to be run by her management firm, BMC Associates. A judge in February dismissed the lawsuit. It is being appealed.

Purnell, who at 94 is the sorority’s oldest living national president, said she planned to present her findings at the biennial meeting this week. But her Chicago attorneys made several trips to the AKA national headquarters on Stony Island, and were rebuffed each time.

AKA attorney Charles Albert said there wasn’t enough time to provide the information requested and that any leader or employee who could provide it was at the national convention.

”It is asking to disrupt a biennial meeting that everyone knew was going to take place,” Albert said.

Purnell filed the lawsuit suit in March after the sorority denied her earlier requests to review the books.

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