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Southern Illinois' congressman wishes Cairo fraud case was criminal

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Friday, December 1, 2017  |  Article  |  By Benjamin Yount

Economic Development (35) , Housing (51) , Minorities (66)
Two former managers of the decrepit public housing complexes in Cairo could have to pay the federal government nearly a million dollars for spending housing money on themselves. But southern Illinois' congressman wishes it was more.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, said he wishes federal prosecutors could bring a criminal case against former Alexander County Housing Authority executive directors James Wilson and Martha Franklin.

But he said that the two simply mismanaged the housing authority, they didn't break the law.

"All we can do is aggressively go after them," Bost said Thursday. "If we can prove that they defrauded the government and misused funds, then that can be calculated. And then they can be held liable for those dollars."

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is moving ahead with a fraud complaint against Wilson and Franklin. The case seeks civil penalties of almost a million dollars. The complaint says the two traveled, bought gifts, and lived a lavish lifestyle on money that was supposed to go to public housing in Cairo.

Bost said he'd like to see them in prison.

"The sad reality is they ought to be punished for [their actions] and go to jail," Bost said. "Unfortunately, you can't make a law retroactive."

Bost said Wilson and Franklin didn't break any federal laws, they just terribly mismanaged the housing authority and were allowed to skate by thanks to poor management from previous HUD administrators.

Both Wilson and Franklin have denied any wrongdoing in the past.