Two Officials Found Guilty in Chelsea Housing Authority Scandal
A former manager and a consultant of the Massachusetts-based Chelsea Housing Authority have been found guilty of conspiring to defraud the government by rigging biennial federal inspections of apartments to make sure the housing agency received a high performance rating. The convictions are the latest from the 2011 scandal that mired the Chelsea Housing Authority and forced the former board to resign.
A jury found that James H. Fitzpatrick, the agency’s former director of programs to modernize and improve apartments, and Bernard J. Morosco, a consultant, improperly obtained an advance list of the apartments scheduled to be inspected by HUD.
Those lists were supposed to remain secret until the day of the inspections, when the inspectors were supposed to run a computer program to randomly select two dozen of the hundreds of apartments at the agency for “spot” checks.
But testimony during the trial portrayed Morosco, a HUD-certified inspector, as obtaining the lists weeks in advance, and Fitzpatrick and others as using the lists to make sure the pinpointed apartments were in tip-top condition for the inspections.
The Chelsea Housing Authority consistently received the highest ratings during the seven-year period in which Morosco was paid $25,000 in consulting fees. Its score plummeted after the housing agency severed relations with Morosco. HUD rewards high-performing housing authorities with wider discretion in using its funds.