The Guttenberg Housing Authority’s facility service director has been placed on paid administrative leave in the midst of an investigation over the roughly $109,000 payout received by the agency’s former executive director.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Be it resolved, that the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the town of Guttenberg hereby places Ms. [Fatima] Becerril’s (sic} on paid administrative leave pending further action of the Board of Commissioners,” reads a copy of the resolution passed at the July 21 special meeting of the GHA.
Hudson County View had to file an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request on July 22 in order to get a copy of the resolution, which was not answered until July 29.
The request also revealed that Becerril currently earns an annual salary of $114,778 with the authority.
Another related resolution approved at the meeting “hereby decrees that that the job position of Property Manager for the Guttenberg Housing Authority is not a supervisory position and does not have supervisory authority over Housing Authority staff.”
Becerril’s paid suspension comes in the midst of the authority investigating the approximately $109,000 payout of former GHA Executive Director Barbara Criscione, as HCV exclusively reported in June.
Criscione retired at the end of 2015 and was replaced by Interim Executive Director Zinnerford Smith.
Multiple members of the authority declined to comment on the implications of the two aforementioned resolutions approved by the board.
However, according to sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak on the matter, Becerril was suspended for allegedly signing off on Criscone’s check – which never received board approval.
The same sources each independently confirmed that the investigation into Criscone’s payout, which included unused sick and vacation time, is now being handled by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General.
The OIG is “committed to our statutory mission of detecting and preventing fraud, waste, and abuse and promoting the effectiveness and efficiency of government operations,” according to their website.
Previously asked to comment on the situation, the OIG said they do not confirm or deny ongoing investigations, while Criscione and Becerril could not be reached for comment.
A copy of our fulfilled OPRA request, which includes the two resolutions mentioned above, can be read here.