Former Alexander County Housing officials facing federal fraud charges

ALEXANDER COUNTY — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Tuesday announced the agency has filed a fraud complaint against two former officials of the Alexander County Housing Authority for using public housing funds for personal travel and gifts and submitting false documentation to the Federal government.

Filed under the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986, HUD’s complaint alleges former Alexander County Housing Authority Executive Director James Wilson and former Alexander County Housing Authority Finance Director and Executive Director Martha Franklin “knowingly overstated their travel expenses,” sometimes double-charging the housing authority for unreasonable and unsubstantiated travel expenses, including hotel stays in Las Vegas, personal meals and alcohol and gifts to housing authority staff. The complaint also accuses James Wilson of filing false statements regarding the housing authorities compliance with civil rights laws and lead-based paint regulations.

HUD is seeking 125 civil penalties against Wilson and Franklin totaling $720,000 and another $188,000 in assessments based upon false claims the two made with respect to funds provided by HUD.

The housing authority has been plagued by mismanagement and other problems. Earlier this year HUD said it will demolish two housing complexes in the city of Cairo, displacing about 200 families.

Wilson and Franklin don’t have listed home phone numbers where they can be reached for comment.