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Former BURA chief alleged City Hall fraud

Federal prosecutors have ended their investigation and unsealed the complaint and its allegations.

Federal prosecutors declined to intervene and recently closed their investigation into allegations that the City of Buffalo misused millions of dollars in federal anti-poverty funds. Nona Watson, the former executive director of the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency filed her whistle-blower case in 2019, claiming city officials steered grants to favored real estate developers.  

Watson was fired from her job in 2018 — an act of retaliation, she claimed in the suit, “because she raised concerns about illegal and inappropriate practices, including the misuse of federal funds.”  She filed an action under the Federal False Claims Act, accusing the City of Buffalo of perpetrating “a well-orchestrated fraud upon the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency … and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.” 

On March 24, the federal government dropped Watson’s complaint. A spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Trini Ross declined to explain the decision or comment on the matter. Court papers say only that Watson was free to pursue her claims against the city individually. Watson subsequently withdrew her claim.  As a result, Watson’s complaint was unsealed.  Through her attorney, Watson — now living and working in Maryland — declined to comment, indicating a desire to leave the matter behind her. 

Read the full story from our partners at Investigative Post.

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