HUD sues former housing authority execs over misuse of funds

The department is seeking penalties of almost $1 million

HUD sues former housing authority execs over misuse of funds
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed a lawsuit against two former executives of the Alexander County Housing Authority (ACHA) in Illinois over allegations that they misused public housing funds and submitted false documentation to the Federal government.

The complaint alleges that James Wilson, formerly executive director of the ACHA, and Martha Franklin, formerly finance director and executive director, "knowingly overstated their travel expenses."

Wilson served as executive director from 1989 until April 2013, while Franklin was finance director from 2004 through April 2013 when she became executive director, serving through March 2015.

HUD claimed that the two double-charged ACHA for unreasonable and unsubstantiated travel expenses. In addition, Wilson was accused of filing false statements related to ACHA’s compliance with civil rights laws and lead-based paint regulations.

According to the HUD, the ACHA received approximately $9.1 million from department programs from 2012 to 2015. These include the HUD’s Public Housing Operating Fund, which supports the operation and maintenance of public housing, and the Public Housing Capital Fund, which provides financial assistance to public housing authorities to make needed improvements to existing public housing
The lawsuit seeks 125 civil penalties against the former executives totaling $720,000 as well as assessment totaling $188,000 related to false claims Wilson and Franklin made about HUD-provided funds.

"Every dollar misspent on personal travel and other expenses is a dollar that could support the individuals and families we serve," said Dane Narode, associate general counsel of HUD's office of program enforcement. "Taxpayers deserve to know that the public programs they support are helping to meet the needs of the many, not the few."

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