LUMBERTON — The county’s investigation into the alleged failure of the Robeson County Housing Authority to follow federal procurement policies has unearthed several instances of conflict of interest, according to Robeson County Attorney Patrick Pait, who is heading the local investigation into mismanagement of federal funds.
In an Aug. 7 letter to Michael A. Williams, director of the Office of Public Housing for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s field office in Greensboro, Pait identified four cases of conflict of interest since 2010.
“We have conducted an internal investigation into matters of conflict of interest as defined by our current policy,” Pait told the HUD official. The four cases of conflict of interest identified by the attorney include two employees working for the authority who are related to county commissioners; an employee related to the authority’s recently suspended director; and an employee directly related to the authority’s maintenance director.
Commissioner Raymond Cummings’ son, Robert Cummings, was employed by the authority from June 17, 2010, to April 14, 2011; Darrel Mitchell, Commissioner Roger Oxendine’s wife’s sister’s husband, was employed for lawn care service. Mitchell’s Lawn Care worked for the authority from May 5, 2010, until July 31, 2014.
Authority Director Ronald Oxendine’s niece, Shannon Oxendine, was employed by the authority from June 18, 2010, until Aug. 13, 2010; and Misty Hammonds, the daughter of the authority’s maintenance director, George Locklear, was employed to service vehicles for the authority from Sept. 6, 2010, until April 4, 2014. Hammonds is the owner of Hammonds Auto Service.
Pait’s letter to Williams said that as a result of the investigation, the Robeson County Housing Authority Steering Committee has been disbanded. The committee was made up of four county commissioners — Raymond Cummings, Roger Oxendine, Hubert Sealey and Lance Herndon — whose districts house the four public housing complexes managed by the authority. The committee operated until Aug. 4.
“The committee reviewed monthly activity and endorsed or otherwise recommended actions to the full board,” Pait told the HUD official. “Going forward all matters will be reviewed by the full board.”
The county housing authority’s full board is made up of all eight county commissioners.