Last year, the city of Dallas abruptly shut down Project Reconnect, its $1.6 million effort to help ex-prisoners get housing and job training, amidst an investigation into nepotism and misallocation of funds. The Dallas Morning News reported that the inquiry centered on $91,000-per-year director Suanne Spires Durham and the possibility she was illegally diverting funds to a 24-year-old woman, possibly a relative.
|Lawrence Hart's Carrollton apartment complex.|
Barely a mouse fart as far as Dallas housing scandals go. Durham was indicted, and the matter was promptly forgotten by pretty much everyone.
Ah, but the investigation hadn't quite run its course. Today,
former Project Reconnect staffer Lawrence Hart pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of making a false statement to HUD, which funded the program, one count of witness tampering, and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. prosecutors filed documents in federal court showing that former Project Reconnect staffer Lawrence Hart intends to plead guilty to one count of making a false statement to HUD, which funded the program, one count of witness tampering, and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.
(Kathy Colvin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneys Office, writes: "Mr. Hart has not pleaded guilty. While documents have been signed and filed indicating that he intends to enter a guilty plea to three counts ... a date has not yet been set for him to do so before a judge. It is only at that time that he will have 'pleaded guilty.'")
In a brief cameo in the initial Morning News story, Hart played the role of hero and victim, unfairly threatened with disciplinary action by Durham after he questioned whether her 24-year-old maybe-relative was eligible for benefits.More »