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Activist pleads not guilty to spending donations for own use

March 17, 2021 GMT

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio activist has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of having spent for personal use some $200,000 in donations to what was represented as a Black Lives Matter charity.

The Toledo Blade reports that 32-year-old Sir Maejor Page, also known as Tyree Conyers-Page, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to money laundering and wire fraud counts.

FBI officials say the Toledo resident created and operated a Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta social media page and registered it as a nonprofit with state and federal officials in 2016. In 2019, the group’s charity tax exemption was revoked and the corporation dissolved after the required paperwork wasn’t filed, but the group remained listed as a nonprofit on social media sites and took in hundreds of thousands of dollars over the summer, authorities said.

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Authorities said Page responded to social media inquiries in June by saying that donated funds were only used for “movement-related” expenses, not for “personal items.” But the FBI alleges that a debit card linked to the bank account was used for food, dining, entertainment, clothing, furniture, a home security system and a home purchase, and no expenditures related to social or racial injustice efforts could be identified.

The newspaper reports that Page and his organization were highly visible in local racial justice marches and protests over the summer.

Page said in a statement that he wasn’t surprised that the government was proceeding with “a criminal case against a social justice activist.”

“I maintain my position that I did not intentionally commit any crimes, as it is my only purpose in life to fight for those whose voices have been muffled and or silenced,” the statement said. “Had I violated any state or federal laws I have no problem owning that and working to correct my actions. I believe that I acted in good faith. I look forward to a fair and just due process under the law.”