FBI: Encore falsified records
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Executives and other employees at a Charleston company owned by developer Douglas E. Pauley routinely falsified housing maintenance records and made false statements to inspectors as part of a scheme to ensure the property management firm continued to receive millions of dollars in federal funding, the FBI alleges in a search warrant affidavit released Thursday.
FBI agents hauled off more than 650 boxes of documents related to housing projects from Pauley's Encore Management office at 2010 Quarrier St. in Charleston last week. Federal agents also seized dozens of computer disks, more than 20 computer hard drives, file cabinets and several items taken from atop Pauley's desk at work, according to an inventory of the seized property.
The FBI retrieved only one box of documents related to Pauley's 32-unit Milton Place apartment complex in Mason County, the inventory record shows. Maps of the project also were seized.
Pauley is building the low-income housing complex for the elderly and disabled on 11 acres of land he purchased from state Treasurer John Perdue last December.
Earlier this week, Perdue, Pauley's longtime friend, acknowledged that the U.S. Attorney's Office has asked him to turn over documents pertaining to Milton Place, an eight-building complex named after Perdue's late father-in-law, Milton Burdette.
The search warrant - executed by 14-year FBI veteran Hugh Mallet -- makes no mention of Perdue or his land deal with Pauley.
The U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI "are investigating Douglas E. Pauley, Encore Management and several of their employees and individual affiliates for making false statements," Mallet's search warrant affidavit states.
The FBI returned the documents, computer files and other seized items to Pauley on Tuesday, after he agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Pauley wouldn't be prosecuted if he cooperates.
The search warrant reveals that the federal investigation is targeting Pauley's use of a federal low-income tax credit program to fund his projects. The program operates under oversight by the Internal Revenue Service.
The FBI said it raided Pauley's office after talking to at least four confidential informants, including past and present Encore Management employees, as well as apartment tenants.
Mallet's affidavit alleges that Encore Vice President Jennie Curry directed employees to submit false maintenance records to Spectrum Enterprises, a private company that contracts with the West Virginia Housing Development Fund. Spectrum furnishes inspection reports to the state agency.
The Housing Development Fund awards grants, loans and tax-credit funding to help developers finance low- and moderate-income apartment complexes throughout West Virginia.
The affidavit alleges that Encore officials submitted the false reports to Spectrum to avoid having to make necessary repairs at Encore-managed housing projects. Encore manages more than 45 apartment complexes in West Virginia.
Spectrum and the Housing Development Fund accepted the false reports and notified federal officials that Encore's units had no "physical deficiencies," according to the search warrant.
The falsified reports ensured that Pauley's future applications for funding through the Housing Development Fund would be "evaluated favorably," the affidavit says.
The FBI also alleges that Curry and Pauley "cannibalized" appliances, fixtures and other items from vacant apartments, then used them to replace broken equipment and parts at occupied rental units.
"At least three confidential informants state that during a period from at least 2009 through the present, Encore frequently has submitted to Spectrum false maintenance records purporting to show that units are suitable for occupancy when in fact they have been cannibalized," Mallet wrote in his request for the search warrant.
The affidavit alleges that employees improperly used notary stamps and falsified signatures on records submitted to Spectrum and the Housing Development Fund. Encore executives directed the practice, according to the search warrant.
In short, Encore officials and staff members defrauded the state and federal government, and conspired to make false statements, the FBI alleges.
Pauley's projects have received tens of millions of dollars in federal funding loans, grants and tax-credit programs distributed by the West Virginia Housing Development Fund.
The affidavit also reveals that the FBI previously obtained records from federal, state and local agencies with a grand jury subpoena, but it doesn't name the specific agencies.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Stanley signed off on the search warrant. Mallett said the warrant "does not include all of the facts that have been learned during the course of this investigation."
Pauley has declined to comment on the federal investigation. His lawyer, Ben Bailey, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Curry also could not be reached.
Reach Eric Eyre at email@example.com or 304-348-4869.