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politics

Wolfe Wants HUD To Probe Potential Corruption In County Program

Rockland Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe
Rockland Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe Photo Credit: Contributed
Penny Jennings speaks at a rally.
Penny Jennings speaks at a rally. Photo Credit: Zachary Croce

This story has been updated.

CLARKSTOWN, N.Y. -- In an ongoing battle between Rockland County Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe and County Executive Ed Day, the chairman is now formally requesting that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investigate possible missing funds awarded through the county Office of Community Development.

The request comes after a column by Day in Thursday's online and print editions of the "Rockland County Times" in which he vows “to get to the bottom of where this HUD money has gone.”

It also follows Wolfe’s earlier request that the county’s Acting Human Rights Commissioner Penny Jennings provide the legislature with information regarding “wrongdoing and possible corruption” in the Community Development Block Grant program.

“This continues to grow more troubling,” Wolfe said. “It appears that at least some in county government allegedly believe there is missing or otherwise unaccounted for money received by the county from HUD.

Wolfe’s actions come on the heels of a Saturday lohud.com report that quotes Day as saying, “At the same time we’re looking at wrongdoing and possible corruption, they choose to turn away an acting commissioner" in reaction to a vote against confirming Penny Jennings as human rights commissioner.

In the story, Day had accused legislators who blocked his appointment of Jennings of playing politics and added that her review of the CDBG program had revealed possible corruption and questionable practices.

In a memo sent to Jennings on Thursday, Wolfe requested that she provide the legislature with detailed information as to what has been uncovered.

He also informed Jennings that the matter would be placed on a committee agenda for discussion in the near future.

“The CDBG program annually provides funding needed by numerous municipalities and nonprofit organizations for affordable housing, social service programs, infrastructure updates and other important work,” Wolfe said. “We must ensure that the integrity of the program and its funding is in place – for the programs and for the taxpayers who help fund them.”

Additionally, Wolfe sent a memo Thursday to Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe advising him of Day's statements and asking him to take appropriate action to investigate and protect county taxpayers.

The most recent CDBG award of some $2.38 million is used to fund efforts for more than 30 municipalities, not-for-profit organizations and community groups across the county.

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