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Detroit — The Justice Department on Thursday moved to seize assets belonging to bankrupt felon Robert Davis, who has failed to pay almost $200,000 restitution despite attending the $400-ticket auto show preview two weeks ago.

Davis, the former Highland Park school board member and self-styled anti-corruption crusader, owes $197,983 to Highland Park Schools — the same amount he was found guilty of stealing from the cash-strapped school district. The money Davis stole bankrolled lavish spending sprees at car dealerships, hotels, bars and a custom-clothing store.

Davis, who recently filed bankruptcy, was sentenced last month to 18 months in federal prison.

On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office moved to garnish any money Davis might receive from the state Treasury Department, according to a court filing. The money could include current or future tax returns.

Davis was unemployed as recently as last month.

Detroit’s biggest municipal union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, fired Davis after he pleaded guilty Sept. 2 to stealing money from the school district and filing a false tax return.

Any money collected would go to Highland Park Schools, which is struggling financially and under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.

Davis’ lawyer, Douglas Mullkoff, could not be reached for comment immediately Thursday.

Davis was last seen publicly at the North American International Auto Show charity preview Jan. 16.

Davis was supposed to report to prison Feb. 10 but successfully petitioned for a delay, saying he needed to arrange his financial affairs and raise money to pay rent and for his son’s extracurricular activities.

The sentence and conviction capped a downfall for a union activist who was once the youngest elected public official in Highland Park. Davis spent two years purportedly fighting government corruption and mounting serial lawsuits against the school district, state and attempts to restructure Detroit’s finances.

Prosecutors called the lawsuits largely frivolous and designed to deflect attention from his thievery.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2028

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