COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - A recent theft at a Collier County home that was part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program is now shedding light on possible misuse of taxpayer money.
The house that brought on an audit by the Clerk's of Courts is part of a program to fix up foreclosures, and stabilize neighborhoods. It was in the middle of construction when thieves ripped off thousands in goods.
"It's surprising, that I was able to access these houses. You think they would rush out there and secure them," Collier Commissioner Tom Henning tells WINK News.
Henning visited the house after county employees who run the program wanted more money to replace stolen items. He wonders why the house wasn't locked up. So did we. We had no problem getting in the back door ourselves.
However, Henning says there's a much bigger issue than stolen items.
"Reported work that was done, was not even done. Missing air conditionings that were supposed to be serviced, water systems that were supposed to be replaced and serviced, pool equipment and pool services," Henning lists.
Bills were submitted for payment with stimulus money, when no one was checking to see if the work was done. Henning calls it a criminal act, "that's defrauding government."
The whole program is now being audited by the Clerk of Courts, including several other homes renovated for resale.
Commissioner Georgia Hiller issued this statement to WINK News:
"The county should not be in the business of buying and rehabbing these homes. I welcome the Clerk of Courts auditing what has happened. We have to do all that is necessary to safeguard the publics' assets."
"You need people checking over work to be done," Henning adds.
The general audit is expected to be done in a few weeks. WINK News will get you the results as soon as they become available.