- State comptroller must review finances and breakdown of oversight
- Lebron: RCSD has current contract with NEAD
The new indictment of former Rochester Housing Authority chairman George Moses raises a number of urgent and troubling questions. In addition to allegedly conspiring with former City Councilman Adam McFadden to pay McFadden for a no-show job, Moses is accused of padding the salary of the Executive Director of Rochester Housing Charities and receiving a kickback. Moses is also accused of using the executive director’s identity to continue to steal money from the RHC bank account through last month – nearly a year after he was initially charged and removed from the RHA board. Finally, Moses is accused of receiving a kickback from McFadden’s thefts from Quad A.
“How did Moses continue to steal from RHA after he was indicted in a scheme to defraud the organization? This is a total breakdown of government oversight and responsibility,” said Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart.
Instead of making sure RHA was functioning properly after the arrests of two high-level officials, leaders of RHA, RHC and the City of Rochester apparently looked the other way. In contrast, Buffalo’s comptroller took action when that city’s housing authority became mired in scandal. Rochester does not have an elected comptroller – or any elected officials – who called for corrective measures in the midst of this corruption scandal.
City Hall does have oversight. The mayor appoints five of the seven members, and the mayor has inserted herself into the hiring process, as we saw with the hiring of McFadden as interim executive director. Under state law, the mayor has the power to remove board members who are not meeting the obligations of office. The city also oversees the authority’s civil service process and has the power under law to provide other services and subsidies to the authority.
“Rochester Housing Charities was created as a vehicle to help people in need because we have an affordable housing crisis in our community. Moses and McFadden saw a vehicle to line their pockets,” Barnhart said. “Did anyone care after two high level officials were accused of serious crimes? Did anyone step back and say, ‘Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again?’”
Barnhart notes that for months, she filed open records requests for all money and in and out of Rochester Housing Charities, including payroll, checks, assets, contracts and more. All of her requests were denied — by high-level officials at RHA.
“People enabled McFadden and Moses to steal from the community. And apparently, the behavior continued after malfeasance came to light,” Barnhart said.
Additionally, Moses has been functioning until recently as executive director of Northeast Area Development and Group 14621, agencies that have received government funding. Schools Commissioner Beatriz Lebron has asked the Rochester City School District to audit current contracts with NEAD and Quad A.
Barnhart recommends the following:
- The state comptroller conduct a full audit and review of Rochester Housing Charities including its relationship with Rochester Housing Authority and the breakdown of oversight.
- The state comptroller conduct an audit of NEAD and Group 14621 pending any further taxpayer money awarded to the agencies.
- The creation of an elected comptroller for the city and county, something that exists in every other Upstate city. This office would be independent and have the ability to review agencies in their jurisdiction.
If the state comptroller is unwilling or unable to conduct audits in a timely manner, Barnhart suggests City Council authorize an independent audit.