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Housing Commission Probes Rehab Worker

September 22, 1987|LEONARD BERNSTEIN | Times Staff Writer

A San Diego Housing Commission employee has been disciplined and is facing a criminal investigation for his alleged involvement in two separate incidents in which homeowners received thousands of dollars to rehabilitate their homes but never completed the work.

Elizabeth Morris, acting executive director of the Housing Commission, said that a rehabilitation specialist employed by the commission signed reports showing that nearly $22,000 in rehabilitation work was completed at one home last year, when very little work was actually done.

In another instance, the specialist signed reports showing that about $2,000 in rehabilitation work had been completed, Morris said. That work was not completed either, she said.

Morris said she has referred the more serious case to the criminal division of the city attorney's office for investigation.

Morris said: "Whether it was simply negligence on his part or whether there was anything criminal, there will be an investigation."

Stuart Swett, senior chief deputy city attorney, said that because of the amount of money involved, the case should be investigated by the San Diego County district attorney's office.

Morris declined to name the employee, but a check of a program file showed the signature of rehabilitation specialist Theodore C. Adams on documents. Adams could not be reached for comment late Monday.

30 Days' Unpaid Leave

The specialist was put on at least 30 days' unpaid leave and participated in an employee assistance program last winter, but is back at his job supervising rehabilitation efforts "on a more limited basis," Morris said. Morris said that both incidents occurred during 1985 and 1986, before she replaced Benjamin Montijo, who was ousted in February.

The Housing Rehabilitation Program provides low-interest loans, guaranteed by the Housing Commission, to qualified landlords and homeowners willing to upgrade their property. The program has a budget of $4.2 million during this fiscal year.

The problem was brought to light after a recent spot check at the home of Lydia Scarborough, 4595 Mt. Henry Place, revealed that little of the $22,000 loaned to her by Great American First Savings Bank had gone to make her home wheelchair-accessible. Scarborough, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Scarborough's daughter and son-in-law, Cassandra and Daryl Kinney, had been hired to do the remodeling work and had been given power of attorney by Scarborough, Morris said. Morris told the commission that "Scarborough believes that her relatives kept most of the funds and is attempting to seek recovery from them, but they cannot currently be located."

Numerous Notes

A review of Scarborough's file shows numerous notes by Adams regarding the rehabilitation work between Aug. 16, 1985, and June 27, 1986. His final entry, on June, 27, said: "Visit to job site. Completed walk-thru. Signed last voucher for $5,524.58."

The file also appears to show that relations between Scarborough and her daughter deteriorated to the point that she obtained a temporary restraining order preventing Kinney from contacting her.

On Monday, the commission voted to give Scarborough $17,214 to complete the rehabilitation work. When it is done, Scarborough will repay the $22,000 loan. Morris reported that additional checks of rehabilitation projects will be made in the future.

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