The former executive director of the Medford Housing Authority has been barred from public employment in Massachusetts, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Robert Covelle, 59, of Stoneham, r following a federal audit that found the authority failed to follow procurement procedures and also handed out projects without putting them out to public bid.
Under an agreement with the Attorney General, Covelle admitted to failing to follow procurement procedures during construction at public housing community LaPrise Village, and for several security contracts, according to a press release from Coakley's office.
The agreement calls for Covelle to be banned from public office for six years and pay a $5,000 fine. According to a report from Coakley's office, Covelle admitted he signed off on about $150,000 in security contracts without putting them to public bid, and about $84,000 in construction work.
The following is Coakley's press release in its entirety:
The former executive director of the Medford Housing Authority has been fined and barred from public employment in connection with his failure to follow proper state procurement practices, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
Robert Covelle, age 59, of Stoneham, was fined $5,000 through an agreement entered today with the Attorney General’s Office. He is also barred from employment at any federal, state, county or municipal agency, authority, or other public entity located in Massachusetts for the next six years. AG Coakley issued a report on the investigation and findings, which includes a recommendation that Housing Authority employees should attend mandated training on proper procurement practices in order to ensure greater oversight and accountability.
“The Commonwealth has procurement laws for a reason – to protect taxpayer dollars and ensure that all businesses are competing fairly for public projects,” AG Coakley said. “As head of the Medford Housing Authority, Mr. Covelle does not contest that he failed to follow proper procurement procedures for two separate projects. Through today’s action, he will pay a fine to the Commonwealth and be barred from public employment for six years. Moving forward, we believe that all Housing Authority staff should be required to participate in procurement law trainings to better ensure the financial integrity of millions of dollars of public projects across the Commonwealth.”
In the agreement, Covelle does not contest that he failed to follow procurement procedures in connection with two projects, specifically, construction at the LaPrise Village and various security services performed for the MHA. Covelle also does not contest that he caused false statements to be made concerning the procurement, specifically, arranging for the creation of fraudulent procurement documents in relation to construction at LaPrise Village.
In the report issued today, AG Coakley also recommended mandated training on procurement practices for housing authority employees charged with the oversight of public projects covered by the procurement laws. In the report, AG Coakley insists that these trainings would ensure the financial integrity of projects executed by housing authorities in Massachusetts and would foster further accountability for those employees if they violate procurement laws following completion of such training.