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Long IslandTowns

Freeport's housing chief gets extra time to challenge proposed sanctions

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed debarment of Edward Pearlman, the head of the Freeport Housing Authority, over allegations of mismanagement stemming from his tenure as executive director of a housing authority in Tennessee. Credit: ABC12 News Flint, MI

The chief of the Freeport Housing Authority has received a two-week extension to challenge a proposed sanction by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that would bar him from doing business with the federal government for three years.

Edward Pearlman, the authority's executive director, was to formally respond to the proposed sanction this week. He now has until April 11 after filing a request for a time extension through his attorney, HUD spokesman Adam Glantz wrote in an email.

HUD said earlier this month that the proposed sanctions stem from Pearlman's tenure as head of a housing authority in Tennessee. News reports from Tennessee and minutes of an authority meeting show that Pearlman was fired from that position in 2011. He assumed leadership of the Freeport Housing Authority last year.

A Freeport Housing Authority employee said Wednesday that Pearlman was not available for comment.

FHA board president Joseph Cattano, who was appointed to that position earlier this month, said Pearlman has the "right to respond to those allegations," but said that if the HUD sanctions are imposed the board would likely fire Pearlman.

"If HUD is not going to support his position, I don't even think we could pay him," Cattano said.

Residents of the FHA-run Moxey A. Rigby housing project say they are still waiting for the authority to repair damage the buildings sustained during superstorm Sandy in 2012, including doors that don't lock. The six-building, 100-unit housing project is on Merrick Road near the Meadowbrook Parkway.

Freeport Mayor Robert T. Kennedy, who has no direct control over the semiautonomous housing authority, said village government has received "numerous complaints from residents for failure to maintain its buildings, security issues, drug issues, prostitution. I've just been very concerned."

Grounds for HUD's proposed sanctioning of Pearlman are laid out in a 2012 HUD audit report of the Shelby County, Tennessee, housing authority. According to the report, the authority did not maintain basic records, prepare an operating budget for the board or follow grant procurement requirements. The authority also mismanaged its Section 8 Housing Voucher program, the report found.

Pearlman and FHA have not responded to requests by Newsday under the Freedom of Information Law for documents.

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