April 28, 2011

HUD Money Missing in The City Of Hawthorne, CA? Why Do You Folks Keep Voting These Con-Artist Back Into Office? Don't You Care?

November 10, 2010

Hawthorne - New problems in Hawthorne -- just weeks after a Fox 11 News report on a scandal involving a strip club disturbance, city officials and allegations they were impersonating police officers.

A federal investigation has been going on in Hawthorne for months into more than a million dollars in missing money.

You can watch Chris Blatchford's video report in the media player.

Hawthorne gets millions of dollars for low income housing assistance. In what one former city official describes as a hostile environment, federal investigators are now asking some serious questions about how that money has been administered and where it's gone.

Larry Guidi has served as mayor in Hawthorne for 17 years, and is currently fighting charges that he stole an industrial-size food mixer from the school district.

A memo marked "high" importance -- obtained by FOX 11 News -- was sent to mayor Guidi and city council members last march by a local investigator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Essentially, it says that the mayor dodged a meeting with HUD officials for almost a year. The mayor -- under advice from his attorney -- has refused to comment for this story.

Eventually, HUD investigator Sebastian King had to personally show up at a council meeting to pin the mayor down.

Sebastian King, HUD:
"We've been trying to get a meeting with you sir for awhile now."

Brian Sullivan, a HUD spokesman in Washington DC, will only say that "there are concerns about housing assistance money in Hawthorne... n a number of public housing related matters that are still under review."

City Housing Director Hamid Pournamdari confirms investigators from the hud inspector generals office have been auditing Hawthorne for months, and sources tell us they're looking for more than a million dollars in missing money.

At city hall last spring, Hamid, the mayor, City Councilman Daniel Juarez, former Finance Manager Louis Escobar, and former City Manager Jag Pathirana finally met with a half-dozen HUD inquisitors.

A city hall insider tells FOX 11 News that HUD was critical of then-City Manager Pathirana's handling of HUD financial and operational guidelines.

In a memo obtained by FOX 11 News, Pathirana told staff prior to the spring meeting with HUD "to be 1000-percent prepared for a hostile environment not only from hud but potentially our own."

He now tells us that is because -- during an earlier audit -- HUD people were in his words "hostile" and "extremely unprofessional."

Pathirana inisists there were "absolutely not" any irregularities in his administering of hud monies, and if there were, it's "news to me."

A written statement this week from city hall said their audits show "the city is not aware of any misspent or missing funds" but several well-placed sources are telling us that may not be the case.

In Washington, HUD's Brian Sullivan says it's not over yet.

In his words, "if we weren't in a situation that was dynamic, we could say more. It is, he says, a dynamic situation."

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