HUD: Former Bradenton Housing Authority director, girlfriend took Jamaican trip during work

Sanctions against DeSue, West, next step before indictment

cschelle@bradenton.comDecember 19, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The former Bradenton Housing Authority executive director and his girlfriend, the former special projects director, took lavish trips during company time, according to a report issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General.

HUD OIG issued a letter Wednesday to both Wenston DeSue, the former executive director, and Stephany West, the former special projects director, that they are not eligible for any HUD funding for 12 months after discovering that the two routinely worked less than 40 hours and billed the housing authority for time worked during personal excursions.

The authority fired the couple in September after HUD officials seized payroll and personnel records about DeSue and West, as well as a computer server.

Darcy Branch, interim executive director, said at Thursday's housing authority meeting that HUD OIG informed her this is the next step before an indictment, which is likely coming "sooner rather than later."

In its report, HUD found that DeSue failed to submit any leave slips since 2009, letting work pay for his time spent going to Jamaica with West on March 14 and 18, 2013, during the course of a Thursday-Monday. The authority is closed on Fridays.

West also spent an extra day in Jamaica, according to HUD OIG, on March 13. DeSue also took a trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa on April 9, Aug. 6 and Aug. 12 with West, according to the report. OIG also cites April 1 as another day West was on leave without putting in for vacation or sick time.

The report does not include everything that HUD OIG has found during its investigation, according to the letters.

Housing authority board member Lois Gerber said the authority also discovered through the investigation that the authority paid for West and DeSue to attend President Barack Obama's inauguration in January.

HUD also acknowledges West's various aliases in its report, including Stephanie West, Stephany Shaw and Stephanie Shaw.

The two have the option to request a conference about their sanctions within 30 days, and if granted, it will be held within 15 days after HUD OIG receives the request, according to the letters. Within 20 days after the conference, a decision will be made.

Another option is to request a hearing before a hearing officer through the Departmental Enforcement Center in Washington through a more formal process, according to the letter.

For more, read Friday's Bradenton Herald and online at Bradenton.com

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.

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