CAIRO -- Federal authorities delivered a subpoena Thursday morning to the Alexander County Housing Authority and spent about four hours hauling out paperwork and computers, according to sources close to the investigation.
According to one of the sources, one FBI agent accompanied three agents from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, which has subpoena authority under federal law to to review spending of HUD dollars.
Regional housing authorities are non-federal public agencies that manage housing authorities for low-income residents largely utilizing funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Another source confirmed that a subpoena was issued on Thursday to the financially troubled housing authority where some former employees are alleged to have misspent money on themselves that was intended for tenant programs and upkeep of housing developments, the worst of which house families and have fallen into such disrepair it's unclear whether they can be salvaged.
It was not immediately clear to the newspaper what paperwork was taken from the office. The sources spoke to the newspaper on the condition of anonymity because they did not have permission to discuss the case.
But the boxes of paperwork and computers were hauled out of the Connell F. Smith. Sr., Building where the authority’s administrative offices are located, and into a van while some residents sat in the common area and watched, according to one of the sources.
Former Cairo Mayor James Wilson was the executive director from 1989 to 2013. Many of the allegations of misspending are centered around the actions of Wilson and others close to him. That spending allegedly contributed to driving the housing authority, which serves hundreds of people in the state's poorest county, into a state of extreme financial insecurity.
On the heels of the newspaper's initial reports in August, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Mike Bost co-authored a letter to Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, calling for a complete and swift investigation into allegations.
A spokesman for the FBI said he could not comment on whether an agent appeared at the housing authority on Thursday. The Office of Inspector General could not be reached as of deadline.
Interim Executive Director Tom Upchurch, who runs the Jefferson County Housing Authority and was brought in on a temporary basis to help stabilize the housing authority in Alexander County, said he could not confirm nor deny an investigation. But he added that he has been cooperating with federal officials during his tenure as interim director, and will continue to do so as requested.