Emanuel Freeman: The Man Who Duped City Hall

Freeman, a.k.a. The Buddha, was supposedly rebuilding Germantown. And even though project after project failed, political heavyweights—from Ed Rendell to Bob Brady to Michael Nutter—kept giving him our money. Lots and lots of our money.

But Settlement could easily regenerate, or something like it. There will be other monsters.

On May 14, 2010, less than two months after the bankruptcy declaration, Freeman wrote to Miller with some personal news. Along with Ilya Chebotar, who is listed as vice president of a check-cashing store in the Northeast, and who was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2003 on federal money-laundering charges, Freeman was going into private business. He wrote that the two men had formed both the Metro Ambulance Company and a partnership to develop real estate, called IEI Development, LLC. “We are seeking your assistance with regards to the acquisition of several properties,” Freeman wrote to Miller. He added that he was also embarking on a “significant” venture to develop the vacant land behind what used to be the charter school.

“Please let me know when you are available for a meeting.”