GRAND JURY OUT ON PRAXIS

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The U.S. Attorney’s office has convened a federal grand jury to hear evidence in a case against Praxis Housing Initiatives, a nonprofit group that provides housing and services to people with AIDS.

A few weeks ago, at least two former Praxis employees were subpoenaed by U.S. Attorney James Comey and testified before a grand jury.

This marks the latest step in a series of investigations that began in February, when City Limits first reported on questionable expenditures-the shifting of hundreds of thousands in restricted public funds into for-profit ventures-made by the group’s directors, G. Sterling Zinsmeyer and Gordon Duggins.

The report sparked investigations at the offices of the U.S. Attorney, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state Attorney General, and, most recently, the state comptroller, whose office has reached out to former Praxis employees for information.

As the cases continue to heat up, however, a turf war has apparently erupted among all the agencies, most notably between attorneys for the U.S. attorney and the state attorney general, according to sources close to the investigation. All have been jockeying for documents and credit, and have decided to keep their investigations and prosecutions separate.

“It’s really a race to see who gets to pull the trigger first, if the trigger gets pulled,” said one source speaking on condition of anonymity.

Unlike trial juries, grand juries meet in seclusion and often infrequently for up to 36 months. After examining evidence presented by prosecutors, the jury determines whether charges and indictments should be made.
Citing the secrecy laws surrounding grand juries, a spokesperson for the federal prosecutor declined to comment on the case.