Abuse of Federal Funds Included Beer Purchases

LACKAWANNA, NY - The Lackawanna Housing Authority is demanding that a tenant council re-pay thousands of dollars in money believed to be misappropriated.

HUD Office of the Inspector General reviewed an audit that found apparent abuse and signs of fraud in spending by the Baker Homes Tenant Council.

Five months after the audit, HUD responded in a letter to executive director Norman Polanski. The letter stated, "the matters as outlined in the complaint can best be addressed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Buffalo field office."

The Buffalo HUD Office wants the Housing Authority to have corrective actions and procedures in place by the end of May.

Baker Homes Tenant Council had bank statements outlining numerous atm cash withdrawals, some on the same day, the $100 purchase of a ticket for a pro-basketball game in San Antonio, and handwritten receipts.

Polanski wants the financial records on Monday, March 10 and over $6,000 returned to the authority from Baker Homes by March 13. If not, he is prepared to no longer recognize Baker Homes as a Tenant Council. The Baker Homes Tenant Council has the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo helping them on the case. An attorney sent Polanski a letter stating, "we do not believe you have any legal authority to make such a demand." Polanski disagrees, especially since HUD has indicated that the money and the situation be resolved.

The executive director of the Lackawanna Housing Authority says there are discrepancies in the financial books for Glover Gardens housing development. "Certain receipts we couldn't read but we called Walmart and gave them the numbers of the receipt and we got copies that we could read," said Polanski. The purchases were for "beer, toothbrushes, things that were improper expenditures," he said. The bill submitted was $700, but Polanski says only $60 or $70-dollars was what was actually spent when they reviewed the receipt from Walmart.


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