Freeport Housing Authority director resigns

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Freeport Housing Authority director Edward Pearlman has resigned as investigations of the authority by its board and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development widen, the president of the FHA board said Wednesday.

"He didn't have a choice," said Joseph Cattano, who took office last month amid a revamping of the board that oversees the authority. "Administration of that program was seriously wanting, from the [previous] board to the people they brought on . . . There is a history of mismanagement, misadministration and not following procedures."

Pearlman could not be reached for comment.

The resignation comes as Cattano and Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy say they are trying to fix the troubled authority. Kennedy removed three members of the FHA board earlier this year and another one resigned. All four were appointed by the previous mayor, Andrew Hardwick.

Officials said there could be more turnover at the authority as HUD investigates its finances. A HUD spokesman said he could not comment.

Freeport Village Attorney Howard Colton said HUD officials were doing a "complete audit of books and finding multiple violations of HUD procurement guidelines."

Colton said it appeared FHA officials were "using different bank accounts to defeat purchasing guidelines under HUD."

Cattano said investigators are hampered by the absence of key documents, including budget and tenant records. Some records at the authority's Sandy-damaged offices may have been lost to flooding or misplaced in a temporary move, he said.

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HUD said in March that it was proposing sanctioning Pearlman in his Freeport post over allegations of mismanagement during his tenure as executive director of a housing authority in Tennessee. A HUD audit found multiple instances of mismanagement in that authority, records show.

After Pearlman's April 2 resignation, FHA's board hired an interim executive director, John Hrvatin, whom Kennedy said has extensive experience in real estate and HUD properties. FHA staff were receiving training from HUD officials this week, officials said.

Pearlman, who has been living in one of the housing units he was managing, an arrangement Cattano said was "not consistent with HUD regulations," has agreed to vacate the premises, he said.

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"We are going to remedy the problems, bring [the authority] in line with HUD requirements so the money will flow and we can provide an environment for the tenants" that is safe and clean, Cattano said.

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