CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced on Tuesday, November 28 the agency filed a fraud complaint against two former officials of the Alexander County Housing Authority.
The two officials are accused of using public housing funds for personal travel and gifts and submitting false documentation to the Federal government.
The complaint was filed under the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986.
It alleges former ACHA Executive Director James Wilson and former ACHA Finance Director and Executive Director Martha Franklin "knowingly overstated their travel expenses," sometimes double-charging ACHA for unreasonable and unsubstantial travel expenses, including hotel stays in Las Vegas, personal meals and alcohol, and gifts to housing authority staff.
Wilson and Franklin are accused of charging the housing authority for both mileage and airfare, using the housing authority's credit card to pay for meals while collecting per diem and using the housing authority's credit card to pay for hotels while collecting lodging vouchers.
According to HUD, they used ACHA funds to pay personal expenses, such as personal meals and gift cards and misused Federal funds to make payments to the chairperson of the board of ACHA.
HUD claimed they caused the housing authority to enter into an agreement with Wilson for consulting services in violation of conflict of interest rules.
The complaint also accused James Wilson of filing false statements regarding the ACHA's compliance with Civil Rights laws and lead-based paint regulations.
HUD is seeking 125 civil penalties against Wilson and Franklin totaling $720,000 and another $188,000 in assessments based upon false claims the two made with respect to funds provided by HUD.
In addition to the fraud complaint, HUD is pursuing a related "debarment action" against Wilson and Franklin, excluding them from doing any business with the Federal government indefinitely.
According to HUD, Wilson served as ACHA's executive director from 1989 until April of 2013. Franklin was ACHA's finance director from 2004 through April of 2013 when she became executive director, serving through March 2015.