Minneapolis' first Black Expo was troubled from the start, according to a city-funded report released Tuesday.

The event, held earlier this year, had no detailed plan or budget, directed more public money out-of-state than to the local Black community for which it was intended, and contained numerous "contracting anomalies" that have raised the eyebrows of forensic accountants.

The report, prepared for the City Auditor's Office by consultant Baker Tilly, marks the first step in a multistage effort planned by city officials to get to the bottom of what happened with the "I Am My Ancestors' Wildest Dream Expo" held in February at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Expected to draw 20,000 people as a celebration of local Black culture and commerce — and as a city-led initiative in the post-George Floyd era — the event was almost scrapped amid harried last-minute planning. It was widely panned, registering some 3,700 attendees and drawing even fewer.

The fallout led to the resignation of Tyeastia Green, whose actions, as well as those of a contractor she selected to run the event, were at the center of the report. Green, who has denied doing anything wrong, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"It leaves me with more questions," City Council Vice President Linea Palmisano said Tuesday after the report was presented to the city's Audit Committee, which she chairs.

City Auditor Ryan Patrick declined to speculate on whether the report uncovered any likelihood of wrongdoing, but said it will provide the basis for more digging.

Green, who alleged a "toxic" and racist culture at City Hall after she departed under a cloud, was hired last year as director of the city's Department of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. The expo was her brainchild, having helped put on similarly themed events in Burlington, Vt., where she worked previously.

The Baker Tilly report undercuts Green's narrative that she was set up for failure by city officials. Instead, it chronicles a series of efforts by senior city staffers leading up to the expo trying to right what was seen as a shaky ship — possibly because Green was unaware how to navigate the city's cumbersome procurement process.

One of the more high-profile controversies surrounding Green's effort was her claim that the Bush Foundation had been prepared to donate $3 million to the expo, which the foundation vehemently denied and for which she produced no evidence. The Baker Tilly report didn't examine that episode, but instead attempted to untangle the event's financing and execution.

Baker Tilly, which could be paid as much as $175,000 for its work, interviewed 13 current and former city employees, examined nearly 285,000 emails, and performed two financial analyses by examining two city ledgers and accounts.

Here are some of the findings, which were presented Tuesday by Tim Voncina, a partner in global forensics at Baker Tilly.

The real cost

Green's sudden departure and her allegations of unfair treatment left a haze over attempts to answer basic questions about the expo. For example, the city had been unable to clearly state what the expo actually cost, leading to conflicting figures.

Voncina said Tuesday the actual cost was nearly $681,000, well above the $450,000 figure Green stated publicly weeks before the event — though it's unclear if her estimate included more than $100,000 in costs for the Convention Center, a charge that the city essentially pays itself.

The payments came from the city's general fund, despite publicly released plans to use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for at least some of the tab. The report said city officials backed off on the ARPA plan because they weren't sure the costs were eligible.

No budget, no plan

There was no written plan to actually make the expo happen, the report found, validating the concern of a number of city leaders who had wondered why the planning seemed so last-minute and the accounting so opaque.

"Based on the information provided, Baker Tilly did not observe any detailed event plan outlining the agenda, vendors, services, supplies, timeline, funding, or budget needs for the Expo," the report says.

Questionable invoices

The biggest recipient of city money was a company called Touched Apparel, a Georgia-based business that was hired to essentially run the event.

According to the report, Green first attempted to hire Touched Apparel — which bills itself as a clothing company selling garments with a focus on African American messaging — without seeking bids, a possible violation of city policy, Voncina said.

When city officials raised red flags, Green sought proposals from local Black-owned businesses, a call that some local businesses complained they never heard. Getting no responses, she issued a nationwide request for proposals that lasted three days. She rejected two others and chose Touched Apparel.

Adding to the confusion surrounding Touched Apparel, Voncina said, were the various names and aliases used by the company and its owner, Casey Ellerby, who also goes by Jersey Moulin.

Green had worked on a Juneteenth event in Vermont with Ellerby, who was briefly employed by the city of Burlington as its event planner. That city is reportedly conducting its own audit of its event in light of the concerns raised in Minneapolis.

Ellerby and Touched Apparel are at the center of one finding in the report that Baker Tilly found "eyebrow-raising," Voncina said. The consultant discovered 49 emailed invoices — attempts to be paid by the city — that used identical invoice numbers and were drawn from the same template, including 14 that were "potential duplicates," meaning the same person or company might have been trying to double-bill the city.

One invoice submitted to the city didn't contain the name of a vendor. Examining file metadata, Voncina said, they found the author of the template was "Jersey Moulin" — Ellerby's alias. Voncina said it's possible there's a legitimate explanation, but he could provide none for now. The invoices will be one of the areas that Patrick said his city auditor staff will probe.

The extent of the relationship between Ellerby and Green is unclear. Ellerby did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

Most spending not local

Of nearly $500,000 paid to dozens of vendors for services ranging from performance to staging exhibits, nearly $230,000 went to Minnesota vendors. The balance went to out-of-state companies or individuals: $226,000 to Georgia, $32,000 to New York and $11,500 to Maryland and North Carolina, according to the report.

Of the payments to Georgia entities, $168,500 was paid to Touched Apparel or other businesses containing the name Touched Apparel, according to a list of vendors contained in the report. In other words, Georgia entities received the most money outside of Minnesota, even when excluding the funds paid to Touched Apparel.

"I don't think we should spend our local city dollars on companies in Georgia," Palmisano said.