By Vanesa Brashier, email@example.com
The former head of the Liberty County Housing Authority was arrested on Feb. 12 in Taylor County after she was indicted in Liberty County on a charge of Abuse of Official Capacity. After her arrest, Deborah McGinnis, 52, was released from jail on the same day after posting a bond of $2,500.
McGinnis resigned from the Liberty County Housing Authority roughly a year ago to take a position with another housing authority in Abilene, Texas. She was promoted from assistant director to executive director a couple of years ago after the retirement of former executive director Willie Carter.
“Deborah resigned, and then a couple of weeks later, I took over the board of directors,” said Housing Authority Chairman Klint Bush. “Once we got a new board in place, we started running the agency with more oversight.”
The investigation into McGinnis was launched after the new board reportedly found some discrepancies in the records, Bush said.
“When we realized there was an issue, it was reported to Liberty County Attorney Matthew Poston. Then the Texas Rangers were contacted,” Bush said. Before long, the District Attorney’s Office was involved, and a Liberty County grand jury agreed to the indictment against McGinnis.
According to the Texas Penal Code Section 39.015, Abuse of Official Capacity is committed by a public servant if, “with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm or defraud another, he (or she) intentionally or knowingly: 1. Violates a law relating to the public servant’s office or employment; or 2. Misuses government property, services, personnel or any other thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant’s custody or possession by virtue of the public servant’s office or employment.”
In the course of the Housing Authority’s internal investigation, Bush said it became apparent that the Houston-based auditing firm the Housing Authority was using had failed to do its job. The firm was fired, and a new auditing firm was hired.
While he believes the auditing firm was at fault, he blames a lack of board oversight for allowing any discrepancies to occur. While he served on the board of directors at the time, Bush says he was unable to effect changes that were needed because the board was under different leadership.
Once the leadership of the board changed, Bush said they were able to start running the agency in the right direction. One of the first changes was to hire a new director, Delores Moore.
“She has the agency following the agency rules and the law. We are making great strides in Liberty County. We are very active in getting more affordable housing in this county,” he said. “We have grants and are bringing together community resources for the benefit of all Liberty County citizens. Affordable housing isn’t just for Section 8 recipients. It’s for teachers, veterans, retirees and young people looking to get a start in life. It’s not just housing the disadvantaged.”
Bush feels confident that the oversight that is now in place will prevent any issues in the future.
“The board is in constant communication with the executive director. I, as board chairman, am responsible for signing all the checks, which now require two signatures. We have an active board that asks a lot of questions. If something doesn’t jive with them, then they ask more questions,” Bush said.
Bush complimented the Liberty County Commissioners Court for picking the new board, which includes Ryan Daniel, Elaine Hamilton, Emily Cook and Audrey Harrison.
“I could not ask for a better board than the one Liberty County Commissioners Court put together,” he said.
Bluebonnet News has been unable to reach McGinnis for comment at this time.