Oakland Housing Authority
Search Warrant Seeks OHA Computer
LYNDA CARSON / Indy Media News Wire 16jun2006
More by Lynda Carson
An investigation into the corruption at the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) continues to shed light on the activities that have been taking place at the OHA's East District Office, which led to events in which 34 families have been facing eviction from their public housing units at Lockwood Gardens, a Hope VI project.
A Search Warrant Affidavit filed in Alameda County on May 10 2006, seeks permission of the courts for the seizure of electronic computer property from the Oakland Housing Authority between the hours of 7:00 A.M. and 10:P.M., pursuant to Section 1536 of the Penal Code, signed by Magistrate J.W. Horner, a Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court.
On Thursday June 15, Officer Jerry Ribira of the Oakland Housing Authority Police Department stated, "The computer we seek is the property of the Oakland Housing Authority, and regardless of whether we have access to it or not, the Search Warrant helps to make certain we are on legal ground in obtaining it for the investigation. The Search Warrant makes it fool proof in the event that any doubt exists in regards to our investigative needs to obtain the computer in question."
"Corporal Jerold Coates, the lead investigator is on vacation presently, and you might try Lieutenant Don Harris of the Welfare Fraud Division in the District Attorney's office in regards to any questions about our investigation into the activities of Carolyn Wilson of the Oakland Housing Authority," Officer Ribira said.
Investigative documents mention that out of the 34 families facing eviction by the OHA, only 6 of those families may have actually been involved in bribery to obtain housing at Lockwood Gardens through Carolyn Wilson, an ex-employee of the OHA.
Jorge Aguilar of the Eviction Defense Center said, "We believe that the investigation will show that none of the tenants that we are representing are caught up into any kind of wrong doing at Lockwood Gardens and we further believe that the courts recent rulings blocking the evictions of our clients, support our belief that the tenants are not unlawful occupants."
CORRUPTION IN OAKLAND HOUSING AUTHORITY:
It was during mid to late April 2006, that the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) announced that 34 families faced eviction from their Lockwood Gardens public housing units for allegedly being unlawful occupants (squatters).
The OHA accused all 34 families of working with an ex-employee of theirs by name of Carolyn Wilson, who allegedly assisted the families in obtaining housing at Lockwood Gardens, without first getting on the waiting list to move into the public housing units located in East Oakland.
The OHA moved to evict the 34 families with forcible detainer eviction notices, and during the week of May 15, in two separate rulings, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Winifred Y. Smith blocked a number of the evictions taking place at Lockwood Gardens due to a lack of credible evidence backing the claims of the Oakland Housing Authority against the families facing eviction.
Dissatisfied with the courts rulings, on June 5 2006, the OHA amended their complaint against the families at Lockwood Gardens in an effort to try to evict the tenants again after the courts blocked their first attempt, and before any investigation was completed in regards to whether the families have been involved in any wrong doing, or not.
Investigative documents reveal that the investigation into the OHA is centered around an ex-employee by name of Carolyn Wilson who worked with a woman named Helen Wood and others to move low-income tenants into Lockwood Gardens.
Documents also reveal that the investigation is focused on the computer used by Wilson while she was employed at the OHA, which may contain e-mail records, correspondence, or chat logs in active files that may shed light on what has been taking place in the OHA during the relevant period Wilson scammed tenants out of at least $10,750 before moving them into their housing units at Lockwood Gardens.
Investigative documents mention that Carolyn Wilson may be charged with Grand Theft, a felony, for collecting money under false pretenses, and that a Helen Wood worked for her or was a partner of hers during the relevant period the corruption was taking place at the OHA.
"It was an OHA Police Department investigator by name of Jerold Coates who came by my residence in Hayward who told me that I faced 10 counts of bribery if I did not cooperate with the investigation into the activities that have been taking place at the OHA's East District Office in Oakland," said Helen Wood.
Indeed, investigative documents mention that an investigator from the OHA tracked down Helen Wood and met her at her apartment at 25200 Santa Clara Ave., in Hayward on March 18, and obtained a statement.
The investigative documents mention that a Ms. Helen Wood told the investigator that Ms. Carolyn Wilson of the OHA asked her to help with leasing the available housing units at Lockwood Gardens, and that she (Helen Wood) would collect documentation including Social Security cards, income verification, I.D.'s and security deposits that would then be turned over to Carolyn Wilson before the tenants moved into their housing units at Lockwood Gardens.
"I did not know that it was some kind of a housing scam going on during the time I assisted Carolyn Wilson in moving tenants into Lockwood Gardens. Officer Jerold Coates of the OHA Police Department told me that he believed that everyone working at the East District Office of the OHA was involved in Carolyn Wilson's housing scam, and that Wilson had left me holding the bag after fleeing the state. I helped 6 to 8 people move into Lockwood Gardens, and I received around $100 per person for assisting them for Carolyn Wilson. Officer Coates threatened me with 10 counts of bribery if I did not cooperate in the investigation of corruption happening at the OHA," said Helen Wood.
Investigative documents mention that Carolyn Wilson accessed the OHA's computer system without permission and in violation of OHA policy, to change data in the files and alter the existing records during the period from March of 2005 through December of 2005.
The corruption in the OHA was first exposed when an Eligibility Applicant named Labrinina McDougle came into the OHA's Eligibility Office to inquire about the status of her application for public housing. When her client number of 480968 was put into the system to see what the determination of the status was, information for Jamilah Page and Samantha Martin showed up instead on the computer screen, and it became apparent at that point that someone had altered the files under that client number.
An audit of the OHA computer system by Terry McCully, an OHA analyst with Management Information Services, later revealed that around 33 files in total were altered, including 3 files in Aug of 2005, 2 files in Sept of 2005, 8 files in Oct of 2005, 16 files in Nov of 2005, and 3 files in Dec of 2005.
Sources close to the investigation point out that during the relevant time period the corruption took place at the OHA, it was Denise Daniel, a supervisor over Carolyn Wilson at the East District Office who was responsible for setting up a whole new system in the OHA's East District Office that strategically placed Wilson in a position that allowed her to alter the data in the OHA computer system while moving tenants into Lockwood Gardens, after demanding cash from them for security deposits, which she kept for herself.
According to Helen Wood, "I met Denise Daniel numerous times when I would visit Carolyn Wilson at the OHA, and from what I recall, Denise did not look at Carolyn's work before signing it, and I guess that she was just lazy, but I am not sure what was really going on between them," said Wood.
Denise Daniel resigned from her highly placed position at the OHA's East District Office shortly before Carolyn Wilson resigned from the OHA and fled the state during December of 2005. Ms. Daniel has since found employment working with Oakland Community Housing Inc., a non-profit housing developer in Oakland, and is listed as their acting director of property management in OCHI's website.
Helen Wood states that the OHA's East District Office was under pressure to get rid of what she called the drug element at Lockwood Gardens, and that they needed to find low-income tenants quickly to move into the housing units by September of 2005.
Joyce Roberson is OHA's director of Housing Management, is in charge of Oakland's public housing units, and over saw the duties and activities of Carolyn Wilson and Denise Daniel shortly before both resigned from the OHA.
As of June 15, the Oakland Housing Authority had nothing new to report and still refers everyone to their April 27 Press Release which accused families of committing fraud for moving into their public housing units at Lockwood Gardens.
Attorneys for the Eviction Defense Center, East Bay Community Law Center and Bob Salinas from from the law firm of Sundeen Salinas and Pyle continue to defend the tenants of Lockwood Gardens from being evicted by the Oakland Housing Authority.
Lynda Carson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
source: http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/06/165003.php 16jun2006