Posted: Oct 25, 2010 9:39 AM by Letitia Walker
Updated: Oct 25, 2010 3:38 PM
The head of the Lafayette Housing Authority has stepped down. According to workers at the Housing Authority, Walter Guillory and Johnathon Carmouche, assistant director, resigned this morning, effective immediately. We'll continue to follow this story and bring you more, later in the day.
From August 18, 2010
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.
From August 25, 2010
New details out of the Lafayette Housing Authority scandal
but these details may lead to more questions than answers.
The questions surround the hiring process; at least one of the applicants who was hired, a convicted felon.
Parish President Joey Durel browsed through more than 10-pages of criminal documents surrounding the employee.
"Forgery?" Durel asked in astonishment, "how in the world does this happen?"
Earlier in August, Durel booted every Housing Authority board member but one... A Donald Fuselier.
The decision came after an audit showed severe problems- especially with the disaster assistance program where seven agents somehow gained a $26 pay raise.
Those agents included Chris Williams and a Beatrice Wilson- also known as Porsha Evans.
"It would raise a flag when you have these charges; forged checks," Fuselier said. "It's frightening."
Investigators say Wilson- or Evans'- record includes multiple felonies stemming back to the early 1990's... including forged checks in Baton Rouge and a simple battery charge in 1998 which landed her in jail.
Yet, the application was overlooked... her criminal background, never checked.
Wilson... Or Porsha Evans was hired for the disaster assistance program in August of 2008 anyways.
"Unfortunately, there are people who are a little slicker than (us)." Fuselier said, "basically we get played."
All those hired by the Disaster Assistance Program were brought on-board by Housing Authority Executive Director, Walter Guillory.
While Guillory says he's responsible, Fuselier says as long as Guillory continues to cooperate, he will keep his job as Executive Director. At least, until federal and state auditors complete their investigation.
Parish President Joey Durel says he is left wondering who exactly is in charge of the Housing Authority...
It's funded by federal tax dollars and overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development...
Yet, Durel says he has the power to choose its board members and HUD representatives haven't been to Lafayette since the audit was released....
"There's a layer of management missing here," Durel said. "Lafayette Consolidated Government should have an ability, considering that HUD is so far away, we should have an ability to go in there in a bad situation and get some new management."
Durel added he expects to have a new board picked as early as the end of this week.