Medford Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Covelle has a history of hiring friends and family for staff positions and work contracts, according to a report in Tuesday's Boston Globe.
Covelle and the housing authority have been under fire since a Department of Housing and Urban Development audit report last month showed the authority paid out contracts to vendors without competitive bidding and failed to follow federal guidelines in distributing over $7 million in federal funding.
During a housing commission meeting last week, the authority's section 8 supervisor Sam Pirri defended Covelle and directed blame for the issues in the audit toward the previous administrators. Pirri plays bocce with Covelle at the Malden Italian-American Club and was hired after another employee was demoted, the Globe report said.
"Unfortunately, Bob is taking the bad rap here for things that have been done here for the last umpteen years," Pirri said.
Pirri said the issues only came to light because a few "disgruntled" people wrote a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The procedures were the same under the previous executive director John Greco and his staff.
“I find it interesting that none of this came up under their jurisdiction,” he said.
The Globe report also said Covelle spent $4,000 on a no-bid contract to decorate the authority's office. The decorator he hired is now his daughter-in-law, the report said. (Read the Full Globe report: Medford housing chief faces scrutiny over hirings)
Last week, Covelle offered a solution to the problems raised in the federal audit that included hiring a new staff procurement officer and three new consultants.
"The MHA is complying with the HUD request to develop a comprehensive action plan," Covelle said.