Saturday, May 23, 2015

Scheme Resulting In Rigging Periodic Inspection Process Of Federally Funded Housing Rental Units By Tipping Off City Housing Authority Of Secret Information Ends In Convictions For Housing Authority Exec, HUD Building Inspector

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Boston, Massachusetts):
  • A former executive of the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) and a former public housing inspector were convicted on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, for their roles in rigging the inspection process of federally funded housing units.

    James Fitzpatrick, 63, of Acton, Mass., and Bernard Morosco, 50, of Utica, NY, were convicted of conspiring to defraud the United States and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by impairing, impeding, and defeating the proper operation of HUD’s physical condition assessment.


    [H]UD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) is required to “provide for an independent physical inspection of a public housing authority’s property or properties that includes, at a minimum, a statistically valid sample of the units in the CHA’s public housing portfolio to determine the extent of compliance with the standard.” REAC inspections are conducted by independent contractors who have received training from REAC on the inspection protocol and applicable regulations, and have been certified by HUD.


    Before the REAC inspections of the CHA in 2007, 2009, and 2011, Morosco gave Fitzpatrick, the Assistant Director of the CHA, an advance list that revealed which units at the CHA would be inspected. During those years, Morosco, who was a REAC-certified inspector, worked for the CHA as a consultant, advising the CHA about how to get better scores on its REAC inspections.

    One or two months before each REAC inspection, using information provided by Fitzpatrick, Morosco accessed HUD’s secure database and downloaded information to which he was not entitled. That information enabled him to use his REAC software to generate, in advance, the random sample that would later be generated by the assigned REAC inspector. Morosco then gave the samples to Fitzpatrick who, in turn, provided it to the CHA’s Executive Director, Michael McLaughlin.

    McLaughlin divided CHA employees into pairs, calling each pair a SWAT team, and sent them to inspect the units identified by Morosco. For the month before each inspection, the SWAT teams visited several apartments a day, inspecting and re-inspecting them as maintenance crews visited the units to make repairs, fumigate, and exterminate. When the REAC inspectors conducted the inspections, the units that were selected were the same as the ones provided in advance by Morosco.

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