Wolfe Requests Investigation into Alleged Corruption at CDBG

Rockland County Legislature Chairman Alden H. Wolfe is formally requesting the county’s Acting Human Rights Commissioner, Dr. Penny Jennings, to provide the Legislature with information regarding “wrongdoing and possible corruption” in the Community Development Block Grant Program.   Wolfe is also formally notifying the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office of possible corruption and requesting an investigation. Wolfe said, “The CDBG program provides funding needed by numerous municipalities and nonprofit organizations for affordable house, social service programs, infrastructure updates and other important work.” Wolfe’s actions follow County Executive Ed Day’s claim to the Legislature and LoHud that Dr. Penny Jennings was not confirmed as the Human Right’s Commissioner because she had uncovered corruption in the grant program. Day said that while “we’re looking at wrongdoing and possible corruption, they choose to turn away an acting commissioner.” The Legislature claims no foreknowledge from Dr. Jennings of any corruption.  In a memo yesterday, Wolfe requested she send “detailed information as to what has been uncovered” and he has also informed the District Attorney’s office “to take appropriate action to investigate and protect county taxpayers.” Wolfe informed Dr. Jennings that the issue would be placed “on a committee agenda for discussion in the near future.” According to Day, Dr. Jennings informed the Legislature back on August 2, 2016. Day said, “My administration has long had concerns about how the Community Development Office is run.” After Dr. Jennings appointment Day directed Rockland County Auditor Robert Bergmann to review the financial operations. Bergmann’s report showed “numerous areas of concern, including issues that were possibly criminal.” The federal Housing and Urban Development has also been reviewing the Community Development Office adding a special investigator. In regards to the Legislature putting Jennings on the calendar in the near future, Day said in a statement that the next Legislative “meeting will take place on November 22. Mr. Wolfe has essentially fired Dr. Jennings effective November 19. Perhaps Legislative Wolfe might want to rethink that request.”

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