Stonecrest Housing Authority never did business with company mayor gave $100K check

This is a screenshot from the Stonecrest Housing Authority's meeting on Wednesday.

Credit: City of Stonecrest

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This is a screenshot from the Stonecrest Housing Authority's meeting on Wednesday.

Credit: City of Stonecrest

The Stonecrest Housing Authority affirmed it has never done business with a company that the city’s embattled mayor recently tried to pay $100,000.

Mayor Jason Lary, who has been on medical leave since mid-April, transferred $234,900 from the Housing Authority’s city-issued bank account before returning the full amount the next day. A $100,000 check to a newly formed Nevada company was included among the transactions.

Bill Bruckner, the authority’s chairman, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution no one on the board knew in advance about the mayor’s transactions or their intended purpose. The name of the Nevada company, MRPC Inc., also drew questions whether it was related to Municipal Resource Partners Corporation, the Georgia nonprofit that oversaw Stonecrest’s troubled CARES Act program.

At a meeting of the Housing Authority last week, Bruckner read into the record a statement that the authority is not contracted to do business with either entity.

“For the sake of clarity, I would like to make a motion that at this time that the Stonecrest Housing Authority is not doing business with MRPC Inc. or Municipal Resource Partners Corporation,” he said. The motion passed unanimously.

ExploreStonecrest mayor moved $235K from city account, returned it the next day

Bruckner explained the Housing Authority considered doing business with Municipal Resource Partners Corporation in February for certain marketing services but never signed a contract. He said they all referred to the nonprofit as “MRPC Inc.” during a February meeting, which could have led to confusion with the Nevada corporation of the same name. State business records do not show a connection between the two organizations.

However, he said it should have been clear they weren’t talking about the Nevada company, because it wasn’t formed until March, after the meeting took place.

Lary has denied any wrongdoing in the April transfer of money, but neither he nor his attorney have provided more information about the incident or why the money was suddenly returned. Last week, the City Council permanently revoked Lary’s ability to write checks for the city on the grounds of suspected inappropriate actions.

ExploreStonecrest council revokes mayor’s check-signing privileges

Lary is implicated in a scandal involving how city officials disbursed $6.2 million in federal pandemic relief funds — a program overseen by Municipal Resource Partners Corporation. An investigation into the program led to several city employees being fired and replaced. A third-part audit also found Lary allegedly misused his city-issued purchasing card, forgoing proper approval and record-keeping protocols.

The Housing Authority is beginning to implement several financial checks, audits and procedural overhauls, matching recent initiatives by the city.

Acting City Manager Janice Allen Jackson said the authority’s bank account, which was set up as a city account, should have been created separately from the city. The authority gave its treasurer approval Wednesday to create its own bank account with BB&T. All checks written from the account will also require two signatures.

Amid the financial transition, Jackson added she wants the Housing Authority to conduct an audit on its finances.

“We don’t anticipate that the audit, so to speak, won’t be anything that’s complicated,” she said. “After our finance team took a look at the number of transactions that you have, it’s relatively few ... you have rent, some lawn care expenses and a few other things.”

As of May 10, the Housing Authority’s bank account had a balance of nearly $235,000, meaning the mayor’s transfers, which were made May 13, nearly emptied the authority’s account. His other transfers included $131,200 to the Housing Authority for the purpose of an unspecified “transfer,” $3,500 for an unknown “June rent” payment and $200 to an individual for lawn care.

Jackson said they’re aiming to have the audit completed by July 14, which is the next Housing Authority meeting.

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