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Aug 18, 2010 7:45 PM by Shawn Kline

Housing Commissioners ousted after audit

Three Housing Authority commissioners received a letter in the mail. It told them they are no longer to report to commission meetings and will no longer be needed by the Housing Authority. The letter was signed by Parish President Joey Durel.

The move comes after an audit discovered "mishandled funds" and "sloppy paperwork" within the Disaster Assistance Program. However, the commissioners say they didn't have their hands in that operation and question why they're being pushed-out.

"Had I served four or five years, I would've known the whole gambit of things," former commissioner Leon Simmons said. "I only served a year."

"My disappointment is that if we had an opportunity to communicate with the administration, then I think we could've looked at a broader picture," John Freeman said.

Freeman and Simmons were two of the commissioners relieved from their posts. Commissioner Joseph Dennis was also removed.

Durel says he's replacing them with people who are 'more knowledgeable' with audits. Durel has the power to appoint and remove five of the seven commissioners. One is left. Durel says that commissioner is also a lawyer and would help assist in the investigation of the Disaster Relief Program.

"It's preventing money from going to the poor people who they were supposed to be helping," Durel said about the misuse of funds. "The elitists in this community are taking money and putting it in their pocket maybe unfairly or even fraudulently."

Housing Authority Executive Director Walter Guillory says he approved a pay raise within the program... The audit suggests a total of five agents received more than $240,000.

So why so much? Guillory says he never specified how much to raise salaries by. He tells us he simply said, "stay within budget."

"I should've been more specific," Guillory said. "That probably would've been the thing to do."

The audit also points out several invoices that were never filed or filed after purchase. More than 100 discrepancies were found- most of them attributed to sloppy paperwork and communication by both the Housing Authority and the agents within the program.

To see the complete audit click here:

Housing Authority Audit.pdf

Summaries can be found after pg. 50.

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