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Ex-board chairwoman enters Southern Nevada Housing Authority feud

Updated May 18, 2019 - 8:18 pm

A confrontation between top officials at the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority has escalated, with the agency’s former chairwoman urging board members to fire the executive director.

The former chairwoman, Dora LaGrande, wrote a fiery email to board members on Thursday alleging that an investigative report commissioned by Executive Director Chad Williams falsely claimed that she had prevented staff from investigating housing authority Commissioner Theresa Davis.

“I pray that all of you reconcile yourselves to do what is in the best interest of Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority and not what is in the best interest of one man,” LaGrande wrote, according to a copy of the email that she provided to the Review-Journal. The email was also sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.

In her email, LaGrande disputed the findings of an internal fraud investigation report that Williams released May 8. The report stated that housing authority staff felt they could not investigate the allegations against Davis “without the fear of retaliation” so long as LaGrande chaired the board.

But LaGrande’s email states she knew nothing about the allegations against Davis until after her term ended in August. She asked that the housing authority board or HUD OIG require everyone involved in the matter, including her, to “submit to a polygraph test.”

In a phone interview, LaGrande said that Williams once asked her for feedback on the investigation during regular meetings the two had after he term ended. On either Sept. 24 or Oct. 1, LaGrande said, Williams gave her a summary of the findings against Davis that did not include any mention of LaGrande. LaGrande attached to the email she sent board members what she claims is a copy of the summary document she had received.

During a brief phone interview Thursday, Williams said he had never given LaGrande a copy of the investigative report. He declined to further comment on the matter.

LaGrande said she believes the claim that she was protecting Davis was added in retaliation for a meeting she had with Commissioners Scott Black and Sanje Sedera on Feb. 19. During the meeting, LaGrande raised concerns about phone records showing frequent calls and text messages made after hours between Williams and his new secretary on their private cellphones.

A summary of the phone records was included in a Review-Journal article published in late April that revealed Williams was the subject of a separate human resources. Williams released the completed fraud investigation report one week after the article published.

“He’s trying to deflect from the investigation that’s going on with him,” LaGrande said.

The fraud investigation report accused Davis of “possible abuse of power, fraud, and embezzlement” involving the agency’s housing choice voucher program. It was sent to HUD OIG and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee.

Davis, an appointed board member who represents North Las Vegas, declined to comment on the investigation.

HUD OIG spokesman Darryl Madden would neither confirm nor deny whether the agency had received the report or had launched an investigation. North Las Vegas spokeswoman Sandy Lopez wrote in an email that city staff is “reviewing the report and evaluating options.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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