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Federal investigators seek Hempstead Housing Authority records

Federal investigators visited the office of the Village of Hempstead Housing Authority Friday seeking financial records of the beleaguered agency.

Housing authority officials said late filings of financial documents to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development prompted the investigation by HUD's Office of the Inspector General. A spokeswoman for the inspector general, which operates independently from HUD, declined to comment.

Housing authority chairman Cornell Bozier, 52, of Hempstead, said investigators went to the Westchester home of executive director Stacey Stackhouse, brought her to Hempstead "and had her looking for files."

HUD recently designated the housing authority as "troubled" and is monitoring its management and operational practices, HUD spokesman Adam Glantz said. The reason for the designation, Bozier said, "was because Stacey did not send the required paperwork on time."

Stackhouse, 49, of Hastings-on-Hudson, declined to comment. She has said files on the first-floor administrative offices have been ruined over time due to recurring flooding caused by a creek behind the authority's building on Clinton Street.

The authority's problems are not new. Authority audits from 2009 and 2010 showed no records for various purchase orders, incomplete inventory of supplies, missing records, and an illegal no-bid construction contract. After those findings, Bozier said, he asked HUD to investigate the authority's previous administration.

In February 2012, the authority's Section 8 housing manager from 2008 to 2011 was arrested and charged with stealing more than $10,000 in housing benefits. Tiffany Martin, 29, of Hempstead, pleaded guilty on March 20 to falsifying business records and official misconduct and is expected to be sentenced on June 12, Nassau County district attorney's office spokesman Chris Munzing said.

In February, a former attorney for the housing authority said in a resignation letter obtained by Newsday that the authority's meetings were conducted unprofessionally, no actual spending budgets were created, and the authority permits its commissioners to have cellphones and iPads paid for by the housing authority.

Bozier said cellphones have been issued to commissioners for 20 years but said he only uses an iPad ordered by Stackhouse. "There was no reason for iPads to be ordered, period," he said.

In documents obtained by Newsday, HUD cited a "lack of trust" among the authority's board of commissioners, "unhealthy conflict," "inadequate communication" and "lack of capacity."

As part of its "troubled" designation, HUD is providing the housing authority with technical assistance and helping it "improve its management systems, financial stability, and operational efficiency," Glantz said.

HUD will re-evaluate the board after Sept. 30 and "determine if it has the capacity to govern the housing authority or if alternative measures, such as receivership options, need to be explored as remedies," documents state.

Hempstead Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr., who appoints five board members -- two others are elected by residents -- said HUD officials asked him last year to re-evaluate the board.

"There was a lot of infighting going on, but the desired outcome is for the board to work together," Hall said. "I have no jurisdiction over these guys. I only pick them and I don't tell them what to do. Most of the time I don't know what they are doing."

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