082315-nws-housing

McBride apartments, a family designated public housing complex of the Alexander County Housing Authority, in Cairo.

The Southern File Photo

CAIRO – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s investigative arm demanded by subpoena that the troubled Alexander County Housing Authority turn over documents and electronics in 15 different categories that included payroll records, investment accounts, solicitations for bid, purchase orders and retirement account payments.

A copy of the subpoena, delivered on Thursday by federal agents to the administrative offices in Cairo, was later provided to The Southern Illinoisan in response to a public records request.

The document says the subpoena was issued Oct. 6 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General, which was created by Congress as part of the Inspector General Act of 1978 to detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse and promote efficiency of federal HUD programs.

The four-page subpoena says the listed information is requested because the inspector general of the department has “information which indicates that you may have information relevant or material to an ongoing investigation.”

The letter is signed by Brad Geary, special agent in charge. The inspector general is under the HUD umbrella but operates independently and with a separate budget. The Alexander County Housing Authority is a local government entity that oversees several large developments with more than 400 units for low-income residents and their children.

For more than two months, the newspaper has been chronicling allegations of misspending and mismanagement, based on reviews of HUD audits and other authority documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, of the housing authority in the state’s poorest county.

The reports have largely centered on the alleged actions of former longtime executive director James Wilson, also a former 12-year mayor of Cairo; former longtime finance director Martha Franklin, who also briefly served as executive director after Wilson stepped down in 2013; and other employees and board members.

The allegations of misspending include issuance of questionable contracts, retirement incentives, excessive travel and spending on gifts and food, generous benefits and other items while some of the housing developments the agency oversees fell into a state of extreme disrepair.

Sources close to the investigation told the newspaper that three agents from the Office of Inspector General and one assisting FBI agent, after delivering the subpoena on Thursday morning, spent about four hours carting boxes of paperwork and computers and other electronics out of the housing authority’s administrative office at the Connell F. Smith, Sr., Building in Cairo into a van.

The newspaper was unable to determine as of press time on Thursday what information had been subpoenaed. The document later provided to the newspaper under a request of the Freedom of Information Act has shed more light on the nature of the documents demanded, and confirmed an ongoing investigation.

The subpoena demanded the following (This list summarizes the items – the full subpoena can be found online:

• Personnel and payroll records

• Journals, ledges and vouchers reflecting receipts and disbursements

• All bank statements and canceled checks

• All documents related to savings accounts, certificate of deposit accounts or other types of investment accounts

• All documents related to procurement processes

• All contracts for good or services and any correspondences related to those contracts

• All invoices, bills, receipts, and other documents reflecting charges or payments

• All forms 1099 issued to vendors, contractors, consultants, or other persons/entities who have provided services

• All bills and descriptions of services rendered that were submitted by or on behalf of attorneys, accountants, consultants or others

• All purchase orders issued by the housing authority

• All computers, hard drives, and other electronic media storage not presently utilized to support daily operations

• All documents related to payments made to the city of Cairo by the housing authority

• All documents related to pension payments on behalf of employees

• All documents related to capital fund projects

• All documents related to housing authority insurance claims

Molly.Parker@TheSouthern.com

618-351-5079

On Twitter: @MollyParkerSI ​

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Reporter

Molly Parker is general assignment and investigative projects reporter for The Southern Illinoisan.

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