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“Cadillac” Health Plan–Auditors Uncover Financial Mismanagement Of Bridgeport Housing Authority

January 29th, 2014 · 15 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events

Bridgeport Housing Authority officials tend to cry poverty when issues are raised about conditions of public housing complexes, but federal auditors maintain the authority has mismanaged $895,000 including legal costs, consulting fees, maintenance, improper cash transfers and supporting documents and issuing a “Cadillac” health plan not competitively bid. The report from the Office of Inspector General recommends “HUD’s Hartford Office of Public and Indian Housing require Authority officials to (1) repay more than $895,000 in ineligible costs and support or repay more than $790,000 in costs charged to the Authority’s Federal program.”

The BHA has a five-person board that consists of chairman Dulce Nieves, Democratic political operative Americo Santiago, Rev. Sultan Stack, James Brown and Shante Hanks, director of constituent services for Congressman Jim Himes. Housing Authority Board here. The board recently hired Jim Miller, who had a similar role in New Haven, to lead the authority as executive director, following the resignation of Nick Calace last March. Most of the financial issues in question came during Calace’s time. The BHA is dealing with some hot-button neighborhood issues including the demolition of Marina Village in the South End and the relocation of its residents.

From the report issued last week:

Authority officials did not always ensure that expenses charged to the Authority’s Federal programs were eligible, reasonable, and supported. Specifically, they did not (1) properly charge and support all costs allocated to Federal housing programs, (2) adequately manage maintenance costs, and (3) ensure that employee health care and liability insurance policies were obtained at the most cost-effective price.

These deficiencies occurred because Authority officials improperly implemented asset management procedures and did not provide formal accounting procedures and supervision. As a result, ineligible costs of more than $895,000 were incurred, and more than $790,000 in charges was unsupported.

These improper charges weakened the projects’ financial position and left fewer funds for operations. Also, with diminishing budgets and staffing levels, diverting staff from Federal to non-Federal properties could result in degraded maintenance at the Federal properties.

Read full report here.

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15 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Boy, what a surprise Americo Santiago is a member of the BHA. When did this appointment happen? Boy, talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
    All these commissioners should be replaced. This report shows they cannot or will not do their jobs. Time to recycle these political hacks.

  • Phil Smith

    For more than thirty years the history of the Bridgeport Housing Authority has been marked by political cronyism, federal audits, investigations, indictments and HUD takeovers. It’s time to clean house, starting with the Board members who, the audit indicates, haven’t been doing their job.

    The Mayor has the power to remove Board members. Does he have the political courage to do so?

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Here is a comment from Americo Santiago in regard to the federal audit of the BHA. It must be remembered Santiago was and is a member of the Bridgeport Housing Authority Board. Santiago stated the following: “Nobody can say there was money stolen or misappropriated,” Santiago said. “What I think happened was certain rules (were ignored) and reports were not filed.”
    I hate to remind Santiago but it was part of his responsibility as a commissioner to make sure this stuff was done and done correctly.
    Just a thought, how many vendors were hired who were friends of the commissioners?

  • BptPorter

    I don’t understand because the report says:
    “In addition, officials transferred cash between asset management projects that were not eligible for the transfers. These conditions occurred because Authority Officials inappropriately implemented asset management procedures and did not provide formal accounting procedures and supervision. As a result, the Federal programs were overcharged by more than $895,000, and officials could not support more than $790,000 charged to Federal programs. These improper charges weakened the projects’ financial position and left fewer funds for operations.”

    Why would he say money was not misappropriated?

  • Pete Spain

    The CT Post puts the total at $1.685 million:
    The Office of Inspector General of HUD … “has recommended HUD require the authority to repay more than $895,000 in ineligible costs and either repay or provide better documentation for an additional $790,000.”

    See www .ctpost.com/local/article/Audit-Housing-Authority-owes-feds-1-6-million-5182254.php

  • barry soitera

    I’m shocked!!! Corruption in a federal housing program?

  • John Marshall Lee

    Didn’t this happen about 8-10 years ago with the Housing Authority? Accusations, audits and replacement of Board members and ranking leadership?
    The City web site shows the basic info about a five-member board. However, my longtime complaint has been initial and regular Board training, and equally regular evaluation of attendance, participation and contribution to the Board mission need to be observed in contrast to automatic rollover until someone dies or leaves town in an alternative fashion.
    And that work the Mayor has set out to do in 2014 on Ethics? Looks like it is in order. Proper stewardship of public funds is part of an ethical process, centered on the rules and regulations established by those providing the funds as a minimum and careful and efficient use of such funds so as to truly help those in need. There is always more to a story than what shows up in the first article. Lockhart has dug into this mess. Stay tuned. Time will tell.

    • Bob

      Time won’t tell. That’s false. The evil of corruption pervades those who are in control in Bridgeport. Everyone who blogs here knows, esp. Andy Fardy who has seen it up close and personal. Yes, there are those who are well-meaning who work for this city, but they have no “juice” and just go about their jobs. Occasionally you have the Andy Fardys and the Bob Walshes, but they are voices in the forest.

  • banmenow

    Off Topic:
    But is anyone else amused a Bridgeport man was arrested for accidentally discharging his firearm this week?
    BRIDGEPORT – Police arrested a city man after they said his gun went off while he was cleaning it Monday night.

    Kenneth Sullivan, 23, of Midland Street, was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, second-degree reckless endangerment and criminal mischief in the third degree. He was released after posting $1,500 bond.

    Police said officers were dispatched to Sullivan’s home on a complaint of a gunshot. They said Sullivan told them he had been cleaning his handgun, which he has a valid permit for, when it went off.

    The bullet pierced the wall and struck the house next door, police said. While officers were in Sullivan’s home they smelled marijuana although none was found, police said.

    Police said Sullivan told them he didn’t know the gun was loaded.

    But remember December when a cop accidentally fired his gun in a Bagel place? Whatever happened to him? Was he arrested? Did he post bond?

    • Joel Gonzalez

      This dude wasn’t in Bagel King drinking coffee. He was high on weed, the gun accidentally went off and by the time the police got there, he had gotten rid of the weed. That’s why you always keep a can of Lysol Air Cleaner close by.

  • Mojo

    *** IS ANYONE WHO’S FAMILIAR WITH THE USUAL BPT POLITICAL HACKS AND THEIR WAYS REALLY SURPRISED? *** ENOUGH SAID ***

  • Joel Gonzalez

    onlyinbridgeport.com/wordpress/when-city-hall-is-listed-as-a-fundraiser-joel-gonzalez-inquires/
    Remember this OIB comment from August of last year? These folks ain’t satisfied with a “Cadillac.”

    In the Months after, Americo Santiago hatched up a plan to place Michelle Retamar in a top paying position with the Bridgeport Housing Authority. Since then, Americo Santiago has used his weight as Housing Commissioner to get Michelle Retamar transfered from the New Haven Housing Authority to the Bridgeport Housing Authority. Retamar currently has the position of Asset Manager–a position she is not qualified for and pays $85,000–double the salary she was making in New Haven. She no longer has to drive to New Haven. A short time before Retamar was hired or transferred to Bridgeport, a BHA employee retired and the vehicle assigned to her was available for anyone at the BHA. A vehicle with low mileage and about three years old was not good enough for Michelle Retamar. The Housing Authority ordered a new SUV for Retamar.
    What are the odds that Michelle Retamar will not lie to the State Elections Enforcement Commission regarding Americo’s extensive involvement in everything that took place in 2008? $50,000 defrauded from the State and now with Federal or State funds he buys the key witness and partner in crime. The SUV ordered by the BHA is not a Cadillac.

    BHA Director Miller was the Director of the New Haven Housing Authority where Michelle Retamar came from.

  • Mojo

    *** There’s a fox in the hen house without a much-needed calculator, no? ***

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