Allegations Of Corruption Surface Against Housing Commission - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Allegations Of Corruption Surface Against Housing Commission

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) - A five-part report, hundreds of pages long, makes serious allegations of mismanagement and corruption at the Jackson Housing Commission.

President of the Jackson Housing Commission Board of Commissioners Michelle Pultz-Orthaus mailed the report Wednesday to officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Detroit. In it she summarized how thousands of taxpayers dollars were allegedly misused and she attached documentation supporting her claims. 

If the allegations prove true, Mayor Martin Griffin calls it a gross breach of public trust.

"This shows an incredible amount of government waste," Griffin said.

During the tenure of former executive Herman Hill who resigned last March after two years. The JHC offices were renovated for a cost of $400,000. They needed repair, the report states, but the cost per square foot was more than double that of comparable office renovations. Included in the renovations: an executive bathroom, larger than some of the offices, with a 6 foot by 4 foot tiled shower.

"This is the housing commission," Griffin said. "This is public housing."

Kimberly Truman worked for the commission under Hill. She served as Interim Executive Director after Hill's resignation and was fired from that position last June. 

Last week Truman filed suit against the JHC, the City of Jackson and the mayor for wrongful termination seeking damages in excess of $75,000.

According to the report, Hill approved salary increases for Truman without the approval of City Council, which is required by city ordinance. Truman received four salary increases in about two years bumping her pay 40 percent. Two of those increases came without any change to her job duties. 

According to the report, Truman approved Hill's final payout of approximately $11,000, which is $5,000 more than he was entitled to receive.

A brand new SUV purchased during Hill's tenure, averaged eight times more miles per month than any other JHC car. According to the report, staff said Truman and Hill drove it for their own personal use.

The report outlines how Hill bought cell phones for his wife and daughter with a JHC credit card and paid for their service plans. Pultz-Orthaus wrote that he charged a blue-ray DVD player, headphones, and other electronics for his personal use. All totaled, it estimates Hill owes the JHC more than $6,500.

"This is money that could have been elsewhere in the housing commission to make life better for the tenants. Instead, it made life better for their directors. It's just shameful."

Pultz-Orthaus writes that she believes the JHC is now on the right path and "will become a model housing agency." But she also writes she doesn't think her report is exhaustive; there may be more wrongdoings to discover. And she urges HUD officials to intiate their own investigation.

Our calls to Truman's attorney were not returned. We have not been able to get through to HUD.  

Please check back for more details as this story develops.

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