Looks like I'll be flopping down here for the night:
"Two ex-Chelsea housing officials guilty of corruption" by Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff April 02, 2015
A former Chelsea Housing Authority manager and a consultant face possible prison sentences after being found guilty on Wednesday of conspiring to defraud the government by rigging biennial federal inspections of apartments to make sure the housing agency received a high performance rating.
“This ends another chapter in holding accountable those who engaged in the extensive abuse of the public trust at the housing authority,” said Thomas K. Standish, who became chairman of the board of commissioners that governs the Chelsea Housing Authority in 2011, after the former board was forced to resign.
A jury found that James H. Fitizpatrick, 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 the US Department of Housing and Urban Development....
The Globe's coverage of the week-long trial.
"Former Chelsea housing manager tells of lies at agency" by Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff March 26, 2015
A former Chelsea Housing Authority manager testified in court on Thursday that he went along with so many lies on behalf of a former executive director that he once told investigators “I leave my soul at home when I come to work.”
“There were ethical issues concerning what I was doing,” Vitus Shum, the former financial director, testified. “I may have been following the wrong orders.”
Shum testified his orders came from Michael E. McLaughlin, the former executive director who previously pleaded guilty to corruption charges and is now serving a three-year prison sentence.
McLaughlin even managed to hoodwink the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Shum testified.
Shum testified that McLaughlin paid great attention to inspections. Under HUD guidelines, local housing agencies are not supposed to know which of their apartments are to be inspected until a HUD contractor shows up and runs a computer program that selects the units. In a housing agency of Chelsea’s size, two dozen apartments would be chosen from its several hundred units.
Although the apartments are supposed to be randomly chosen, Shum testified, he and other Chelsea Housing Authority managers were told several days before the inspections which specific units they should expect to be selected for inspection. That allowed the managers to make sure those apartments were in near-perfect condition for inspection.
The advance information came from Bernard J. Morosco, a HUD-certified inspection contractor, Shum testified. Morosco had been hired by McLaughlin and paid more than $25,000 in consulting fees over seven years.
Later on Thursday, a HUD information technology manager testified that Morosco, as a certified contractor, had access to the HUD computer server on three occasions when the Chelsea Housing Authority’s apartments were inspected. All three times Chelsea got a perfect or near-perfect grade, HUD manager Patrick Evans testified.
But the agency’s inspection score plummeted by more than 25 percent in 2012, after Morosco no longer had access to the server and McLaughlin had resigned under fire, Evans said.
Shum, who retired in 2012, also gave testimony against the other defendant, James H. Fitzpatrick, the authority’s former assistant executive director.
Under questioning from Assistant US Attorney S. Theodore Merritt, Shum testified that Fitzpatrick had been designated by McLaughlin as the agency’s “point person” for communicating with Morosco.
But under questions from attorney Janice Bassil, who is representing Morosco, and from Syrie Fried, who is representing Fitzpatrick, Shum testified that he repeatedly deceived federal and state regulators by helping to hide McLaughlin’s $360,000 in salary at the small agency.
Shum testified that he went along with McLaughlin’s “cover story” among employees that managers knew which apartments would be inspected and therefore could repair them beforehand because Shum had figured out a “formula” to obtain the information.
He testified that he went along when McLaughlin failed to make promised improvements, like new boilers and modernized kitchens, because McLaughlin used the money instead to pay his inflated salary.
And he testified that he went along when McLaughlin did not show up for work half the time, failed to fill out time cards, and traveled frequently to out-of-state conferences.
“I was following orders,” he said.
"Chelsea housing head was focused on retirement package; Director urged prep, aide testifies" by Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff April 01, 2015
The former executive director of the Chelsea Housing Authority in his last years in office anticipated such a large public pension and severance package that he instructed the agency’s financial director to build an ample cash reserve for him, according to testimony Tuesday in the trial of a former assistant and a consultant to the former executive director.
James H. Fitzpatrick, one of two men on trial in US District Court in Boston for conspiring to defraud the government, testified that former executive director Michael E. McLaughlin repeatedly spoke of a financial package that, when McLaughlin finally did retire in 2011, included a $250,000 annual pension and more than $335,000 in severance pay.
Fitzpatrick testified that McLaughlin constantly hounded Vitus Shum, the agency’s former financial director, to be ready with plenty of cash for McLaughlin’s retirement.
“McLaughlin often said, ‘Vitus, it’s your job to make sure there’s enough money’ ’’ in the agency’s budget “to pay for my retirement and severance,” Fitzpatrick testified.
“That’s a lot of money,” Shum said of the package McLaughlin expected to collect, Fitzpatrick said.
McLaughlin abruptly retired in 2011 days after stories in The Boston Globe exposed his inflated annual pay of $360,000 at the small housing agency, a salary that McLaughlin — with Shum’s admitted help — had kept secret for years from state and federal overseers.
McLaughlin eventually pleaded guilty to felony charges for hiding his salary and is serving a three-year prison sentence. His pension was suspended immediately upon his retirement by the Chelsea retirement board.
All he got was three years?
McLaughlin arranged with Shum on his last day on the job to be paid severance in three checks for what he said were weeks of vacation, sick leave, and personal time off he had accrued as a public employee but had not used. Investigators stopped payment on two of the checks, which would have paid McLaughlin almost $200,000. McLaughlin cashed the other check for about $135,000.
Fitzpatrick also testified that after being diagnosed with cancer in 2005, he chose not to follow a recommended course of treatment that would have put him out of work for up to 10 weeks because he was afraid McLaughlin would never let him back.
“I was afraid McLaughlin would reorganize me out,” Fitzpatrick testified.
By contrast, McLaughlin allowed himself considerable flexibility on the job. Shum last week testified under a grant of immunity that McLaughlin was absent from the office about half the time.
Fitzpatrick, who headed the housing agency’s program to modernize apartments, and Bernard J. Morosco, a former consultant, are accused of rigging the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s biennial inspections of the Chelsea Housing Agency’s apartments.
McLaughlin has pleaded guilty to leading the conspiracy in an attempt to guarantee the highest possible performance rating for his agency. HUD rewards high performers with wider discretion in spending.
Under HUD guidelines, local housing agencies are not supposed to know which of their apartments are to be inspected until a HUD contractor shows up and runs a computer program that selects the units.
Although the apartments are supposed to be randomly chosen, Shum testified last week, he and other Chelsea Housing Authority managers were told weeks before the inspections which specific units they should expect to be selected for inspection.
The advance information came from Morosco, a HUD-certified inspection contractor, Shum testified.
McLaughlin the mobster!
I didn't see anything about him cheating on his wife with his long-time assistant.
If you have any extra time....
UPDATE: Two in Chelsea Housing scheme sentenced in federal court