The Palm Beach County Housing Authority board members voted unanimously to fire Executive Director Van Johnson, citing “financial malfeasance, gross mismanagement and ethics violations.”
The vice chairman of the board told the Palm Beach Post that Johnson also intimidates staff members and hid documents from the board.
According to the Post, the housing authority released a statement Monday which revealed that former director Johnson allegedly approved $230,000 in bonuses for himself and about $1 million in consulting and administrative fees, knowing that the authority was struggling financially.
Paul Dumar Jr., vice chairman of the housing authority’s board, said that the board expects to hire a new executive director within six to eight months, but in the meantime, former deputy executive executive director Lesleigh Varner will head the authority’s staff operations.
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay told the Post: “I was concerned about the behind-the-scenes operations of the authority,” adding, “I raised those concerns with federal folks, too. Nobody did anything about it.”
Dumar explained why the housing authority did not take action sooner, according to the Post: “The board didn’t want to confront (Johnson) on unfounded allegations. We had to build a case.”
The misappropriation of federal funds is a federal crime. Neither the Housing and Urban Development Office nor the Palm Beach County Housing Authority would confirm or deny an investigation into Johnson’s actions. [Palm Beach Post] —Grace Guarnieri