March 4, 2003 – A Housing Authority worker found to have cashed 10 agency checks made out to her deceased mother was fired on Tuesday, and two other housing workers were suspended for 30 days for having allowed the 10 utility allowance checks to be issued after the woman's death.
"All VIHA employees are to adhere to the highest ethical and moral standards," Ray Fonseca, the agency's executive director, said in a release announcing the punitive actions. He said he would tolerate neither "any actual nor perceived impropriety by employees, residents or those with whom we do business."
The checks, totaling $173, were endorsed by the VIHA employee after her mother, a tenant in a housing community, died. The employee has already made restitution for the money, Fonseca said several weeks ago. He said on Tuesday that he waited for an investigation into the matter by the V.I. Justice Department to be completed before taking further action.
If the two suspended workers had followed procedures and changed the rent records after the death was reported, he said, the utility checks would have been discontinued. The investigation determined that the utility checks stopped after a few weeks but then resumed, he said.
Utility allowance checks are authorized by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and are issued to residents with little or no income to assist with the payment of their utility bills.
Fonseca said he would take final action in dealing with the case after taking the matter before the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.
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