A federal juvenile justice official who was fired this week had helped organizations apply for Justice Department grants past the deadline – a significant violation of department policy – and directed employees to help a favored organization win a grant, according to federal documents quoted by Youth Today. Michele DeKonty, former chief of staff at the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), played a central role in grant awards that are under congressional investigation. She took the Fifth Amendment when asked to speak with investigators from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is probing whether OJJDP awarded grants based on political favoritism and personal connections.
Last year, DeKonty – a graduate of Regent University, which calls itself “America’s Preeminent Christian University” – helped faith-based organizations apply for mentoring grants even though the deadline had passed, prompting a senior Justice Department official to fire off an angry rebuke to Flores. Flores had said that the move benefited “small” faith-based and community-based organizations, and that “their participation is a Presidential priority.”