Audit: City Director Steered Work Toward Son’s Company

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(Memphis) A new audit shows a now resigned City of Memphis Deputy Director was steering work to his son.

The completed audit has been turned over to the Memphis Police Department for investigation.

The audit focused on the City’s program that cuts grass on blighted properties.

Auditors found then Deputy Director for Neighborhood Improvement Onzie Horne, who resigned during the audit, “steered work to a company which subcontracted work to Horne’s son, that some property owners were not properly notified before their grass was cut, most were never billed, and that there were questionable invoices submitted by three contractors who appear to have received favorable treatment.”

Patrice Thomas, a comptroller in the City’s Finance Division for about 10 years, has been named Deputy Director and a partnership with Clean Memphis has been formed as a result of the audit.

“It is regrettable that Mr. Horne, in his zeal to rid the City of blight, failed to maintain proper controls and that he failed to disclose the extent of his son’s involvement with a contractor,” said CAO George Little. “I commend Director Dwan Gilliom for paying attention to the red flags and ordering the investigation that has put a stop to the mismanagement and abuse.”

The grass cutting program is part of the City’s blight eradication strategy.

With new leadership, and tight financial and management controls it will be more effective at keeping abandoned and vacant properties clean, secure and free of over-growth, Little said.

Thomas is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Municipal Finance Officer with more than 16 years of experience in public, private and governmental accounting with an emphasis on financial analysis and budgeting.

According to the City, she has a Master of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, Real Estate and Insurance, and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting & Telecommunications/Information Systems Management.

Gilliom announced a partnership with the non-profit Clean Memphis to provide a $50,000 grant to be used to fund the pick-up of trash along key corridors of the City.

The grant funds will be used to hire supervisors to oversee inmate work crews.


  • R. E.

    Oh! Say it ain’t so!! Another big shot favors family with public dollars! It only gets worse, folks!

  • Kevin

    They don’t call us Little Detroit for nothing….as the middle income folks black and white flee the city.


    Thou shall not say negative comments against our fearless leaders. What we realy need is more cuts in public safety. Ooooh and more money spent on the riverboat dock. Who doesn’t want to travel up and down the mississipi sewer and look at west memphis?

  • Hard Truths

    Third World style corruption.

    AC is not as big an improvement over King Willie as we expected.

    • Terribletwos

      Oh I disagree. He is at least cleaning up the trash willie left behind. Taking time yes but as you can see it is all going in the right directions.

      • Hard Truths

        I don’t think A C has gotten ride of NEARLY enough of Willie Herenton’s kleptocracy. He picked off some low-hanging fruit (that fella with the name Estrice — go look up what it means!), but the other crooks were left safe.

        I’m not voting for A C again. In the big picture, he’s been a place-holder, hee’s been a do-nothing mayor who has done little to change the unsavory atmosphere that permeated the previous administration.

        The I-gots-mine corruption that Willie instilled is still with us.

  • Marybelle

    Is there anyone in this City government HONEST? AC Wharton has neen such a disappointment, too. Repatriotism is what was “hollowered” about years ago..Right? Thes blacks are sure getting their share now, I see…,GOOD vs EVIL. Just hope the BIG Crash happens soon. Then how will these crooks survive? Very interesting

  • Chris Williams

    I know what’ll solve all of our problems…..Let’s elect a white man for mayor!!! *sarcasm off*

  • smith

    This is just one department they all need to be looked into, starting with the mayor office, then the housing department, put there A##s in jail

  • Hard Truths

    I am troubled by the interview with the Culprit, Sr.

    Why is he unable to get a sentence out of his mouth? Brain-damaged? Drunk? Simply trying NOT to resopnd?

    WHAT is somebody like that doing as a major city bureaucrat? THIS guy was actually QUALIFIED?

  • disappointed citizen

    They need to investigate why grass is being cut not that is brown and clearly not growing. Picking up the trash would better serve our community and not waste more dollars.

  • Hard Truths

    The keys to anything Memphis City Govt does or does not do —

    Is there a way for someone to loot public funds?

    Does it create cushy jobs for cronies?

    NOT whether it does the taxpaying public any good or not.

  • Terrie

    WHY are none of these people getting punished? Either make them pay back or put them in jail!!
    Funny how all the depts. that have been audited and will be audited are ran by blacks.

  • Sasha

    It’s a shame I know for a FACT the work was going to his son. While he’s out living comfortable his workers are struggling to make ends meet. Promised one of his workers certain amount of pay every week but failed to do so. It doesn’t pay to get over on people or think you are getting over.

  • Redblur63

    Read the audit. It’s very enlightening. This man is an incompetent bully who trades on his connections, rather than doing the work for which he was hired. Key phrases such as “failed to budget,” “created a poor work environment,” “instructed workers to find work for these subcontractors” tell the tale. He needs jail time. Completely mismanaged a program that might have done some good, in order to help out his son. He is a swindler and a thief. Waste of taxpayer money.

  • Some Body

    All of this work can be done using inmate work crews, NOT someone’s family without any controls.

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