Whistleblower Reveals Philadelphia Housing Authority Tenant Leader Pocketed Tens of Thousands

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May 19, 2011; Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | On occasion, the NPQ Newswire describes some crimes against nonprofits as somewhat more heinous, obnoxious, and unacceptable than others. We have written in the past about the various controversies and scandals surrounding the Philadelphia Housing Authority under now-fired executive director, Carl Greene. Many of the scandals, as we have detailed, have nonprofit dimensions and implications.

Now comes word that a “longtime ally” of Greene’s has been fingered in a whistleblower suit filed by a former PHA staff person for stealing – ahem, “misappropriating” – funding from a nonprofit tenant organization she ran. (She was appointed by Greene to run Tenant Support Services.) The whistleblower who had dealt with tenant issues said that the ally, Asia Coney, was living in PHA housing and leading a PHA tenant association but was earning $108,000 and driving a PHA-supplied SUV.

According to the federal whistleblower suit, Coney and an assistant each pocketed payments of nearly $10,000 from the tenant group’s payroll fund and on one occasion Coney paid herself twice in a pay period. Though her payroll transgressions were outed, Greene took no action against her. When the whistleblower confronted Greene, he said he was concerned about bad publicity, not about the possible embezzlement of the PHA’s tenant funds. A myriad of investigations of other potential cases of embezzlement has developed, looking even at the tenant association’s Toys for Tots program.

There is something particularly odious about stealing money from public housing tenants.—Rick Cohen