FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) – Florence Housing Authority officials said Wednesday they have received information about the possible misuse of funds and property by agency employees.
The information received by board members “suggests that one or more current or former employees and officials of the Authority engaged in impermissible activities in violation of agency policy and applicable law,” the authority said in a news release.
The board did not reveal any details about the information or the employees allegedly involved but said the agency’s attorneys are leading an investigation with a team led by Michael East, a former U.S. marshal and former head of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s financial crimes unit
“The Board is committed to conducting a careful and thorough investigation and will make its findings available to the public,” the authority said.
The board said that because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, it will do everything it can to protect the privacy of those involved.
News13 reached out to the board’s chairman, Douglass Hawkins, but he was not available. A representative said Hawkins would return the call.
The Housing Authority has been through a lot of changes in the past several months.
In March, the authority’s executive director, Clamentine Elmore, was fired for reasons that have yet to be disclosed. News13 received a tip that her termination was because of concerns about contracts and the use of federal funds. However, the authority said her firing was in the “best interest of the housing authority.”
Human Resources Director Justin Hanna was also fired in March after a fight with a board member Jerrod Moultrie. Another board member, Elishann Redden, resigned in March, citing health reasons.
Then, in April, board member Linda Becote was removed in a unanimous vote by Florence City Council, which is responsible for making appointments to the Housing Authority board. An affidavit presented at the meeting said a $1,400 check from the Housing Authority that was signed by Becote went to her catering business to pay for a party for Elmore.
There were also accusations that Becote used “special treatment” in the way her home was maintained and repaired. Becote lived in one of the properties owned by the Housing Authority.
At the time, Becote’s attorney, John Bledsoe of Hartsville, called the allegations “falsehoods” and said he planned to appeal her removal to the South Carolina Supreme Court.T
In the meantime, the turmoil was all taking place at the same time the Creekside Apartments, which the authoritiy maintains, was found to have mold in 30 of its 100 units, forcing many residents to be displaced and house in hotels and other temporarily living locations.
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Taylor Ford is a digital journalist for News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2023. Taylor is a Florence native and covers the Pee Dee out of News13’s Florence Bureau. Read more of Taylor’s work here.