Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority forwards investigation to federal agency

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CANTON – Documents related to questionable offers and contracts with the Stark County Metropolitan Housing Authority have been turned over to a federal investigative agency.

Last month, Executive Director Herman Hill said an internal review of “possible irregularities” had begun. There were multiple jobs in question and $ 121,675 paid to a company with ties to former development director Ashley Currence’s husband.

Currence, who has a PhD in philosophy in the humanities, resigned from housing authority on Aug. 12, valued at $ 77,000 a year, to teach a class at Malone University that semester.

Hill confirmed that information from the internal investigation had been forwarded to the Office of Inspector General of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in Cleveland.

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Neither the Inspector General nor Currence responded to messages asking for comments on this story. Historically, the HUD agency will not comment on an ongoing investigation or even check to see if one exists.

Refrigeration contracting services and Dampman contracting

The Housing Authority review focuses on seven vacancies and / or offers and three projects awarded to Cooling Contractor Services LLC of Canton and offers from Dampman Contracting.

Both companies were founded that year and operated by address boxes in the same canton UPS store.

Herman Hill

Hill said he learned of the contract and work assignment irregularities in late July. That was shortly after Currence called the canton police to his home. Currence alleged that she and a friend, Nicholas Cooling, were attacked by her husband, John Gantz.

A repository investigation found that: Gantz was the agent for Cooling Contractor when it was formed in February; Cooling is a principle in business; the two men shared a cell phone number; and Currence supervised offers, bids and work outsourced to the company.

Currence’s involvement in this process would be an obvious conflict of interest. In addition, Hill said, the internal probe was trying to determine if cooling ever did the job it was paid to do.

Dampman, founded in June, began submitting offers for work to the housing authority, even though it had not yet been hired.

The two directors in this business – John Dampman and Brian Spenny – happened to have lived in Erie, Pennsylvania, as did Gantz and Nicholas Cooling. The Cooling address given in the July police report is an apartment next to an address Spenny used.

Dampman and Spenny both have long criminal records, according to Erie’s court records. A judge called Spenny a career bank robber when he sent him to prison in 2014.

Inspector General Investigations

The inspector general checks, evaluates and examines agencies such as B. Housing authorities funded from HUD taxpayers’ money. Stark’s Housing Authority operates 2,544 public housing and oversees the county Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program.

According to his website, the Inspector General assesses allegations of fraud, waste, abuse or mismanagement for possible criminal, civil or administrative violations and possible legal remedies.

The website states that sometimes information is immediately passed on to law enforcement agencies. In other cases, the inspector general may conduct his own investigation and then refer his report to local, state, or federal law enforcement for civil or criminal action.

Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @tbotosREP


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