Feds investigating Mount Olive Housing Authority

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Federal authorities will not say whether they are investigating issues relating to the former Mount Olive Housing Authority director.

The former director, Eddie Wells, was fired several years ago.

The closed-mouth reaction from federal authorities is routine when responding to news media inquiries, but Mount Olive Mayor Joe Scott did confirm he had asked for an investigation.

Scott told the Tribune he made that request to the North Carolina State Treasurer’s Office.

He said he asked for the investigation after he took office and witnessed total disorganization, a non-functioning board of directors and questions about finances at the housing authority.

Scott also confirmed he did meet “eyeball to eyeball” in April with a special agent from the Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General.

He told the Tribune he cannot discuss the issue any further because it is “an ongoing investigation.”

HUD Office of Inspector General media specialist Darryl Madden, when contacted by the Tribune, said, “It is policy of the Office of Inspector General to neither confirm nor deny any investigative action that may or may not be underway.”

Scott told the Tribune his meeting in April “in his office” was with Special Office of Inspector General Special Agent Bryan Rymill.

Rymill works out of the HUD Greensboro field office.

Scott would provide no further details.

Current housing authority director Al Butts, who was hired in January, also confirmed he, too, has had both telephone and email contact with the investigator out of the HUD Greensboro office.

Butts told the Tribune both are planning to meet once a date can be set.

The Mount Olive Housing Authority was dissolved last January after officials learned the authority’s board of directors did not even have a quorum to conduct meetings.

The action was later rescinded by the town board of commissioners and a new board was appointed.

Former Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. was appointed to chair the new board.

Former director Wells was then dismissed by the new board.

A new director, Al Butts, the former director of the housing authority in Ayden, was later employed.

He was formally introduced to the town board at a regular board meeting in September.

A review by the Tribune of the last audit of the housing authority revealed auditors found what they termed in a summation as “potential fraud, waste, and/or abuse,” and “the lack of proper oversight by the housing authority board.”

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