Money Manager From Davie Enters Guilty Plea to Cheating New Orleans Housing Agency
|The Lamborghini Gallardo's an awesome car -- just not if your financial officer's driving it.|
The Housing Authority of New Orleans entrusted its financial books to a South Floridian: Elias Castellanos, who had an accounting firm in Coral Gables and a McMansion in Davie. He also had a fleet of luxury cars -- the kind that makes a body wonder whether he's an honest accountant.
He's not, judging by the prison sentence he's facing after entering a guilty plea last week to charges that he over-charged the agency that provides low-income housing to New Orleans' poor. And there's quite a few of those, if you recall the Katrina aftermath.
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Castellanos was charged with embezzling at least $900,000 from the agency over a three year period, beginning in 2006.
During the same time period, prosecutors noted then, Castellanos bought a $1.6 million mansion in Davie, Fla., just north of Miami, and five late-model cars, including a Lamborghini Gallardo worth more than $200,000, a Ferrari F430, a Porsche 911 and two Mercedes-Benzes.Scandal's nothing new for this agency. How can the head of its Section 8 housing program -- reserved for only those whose low income qualifies them -- be paying his own rent with vouchers from that program, even as the same agency paid him a $100,000 salary?
That and the Castellanos case appear merely to be symptoms of a bigger problem in that agency.