LUMBERTON — James Meacher, the longtime executive director of the Lumberton Housing Authority, is no longer employed with the agency.
His departure came after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development told the local agency not to spend or obligate any federal money without first getting HUD approval because of a concern “about the possible improper expenditures of funds.”
The Robesonian tried repeatedly to get information on whether Meacher was fired by the authority’s board of directors, resigned his position or retired.
Several calls made to the home and office of Robert Delane Shaw, chairman of the authority’s board of directors, on Monday and this morning were not answered. The Robesonian also was unsuccessful Monday in its attempts to reach Kimberly Jones, the lawyer for the Lumberton Housing Authority, and Meacher.
“This correspondence concerns the Lumberton Housing Authority’s violation of conflict-of-interest requirements, lack of adequate controls over its disbursements, and failure to maintain an adequate inventory control system as outlined in the report of the Office of Public Housing,” Michael A. Williams, director of Public Housing for HUD’s Greensboro field office, wrote in a Feb. 6 letter to Meacher. “Due to LHA’s failure to administer some of its HUD funds in accordance with the requirements, this office is concerned about the possible improper expenditures of funds.
“The LHA must submit copies of all invoices, bills, receipts, etc., to this office prior to expending or obligating any LHA funds by check, cash or promissory note,” the letter to Meacher reads. “Additionally, prior to awarding and executing any contracts, hiring or firing, we are requiring the LHA to submit for HUD’s review all procurement and contracting documents supporting the decision. Utilities, payrolls and Housing Assistance Payments don’t need to be submitted for approval, but the Housing Authority must keep the documents on file for future review.”
While local housing authority officials aren’t talking, a source knowledgeable of HUD and housing authority operations, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Robesonian that for HUD to enact such an order the agency must have significant concern that the local housing authority is in violation of federal regulations governing the management and distribution of government funds. The source said he is convinced there is an ongoing investigation.
The Robesonian this morning attempted to get basic information from the authority, including how many complexes and units it manages, and how long Meacher has been executive director. The Robesonian was transferred to multiple people, none of whom provided the information. The Robesonian was told that a person in personnel would call with that information, but the phone call had not been received by deadline today.
Attempts by The Robesonian on Monday to reach a HUD spokesman for comment were unsuccessful.