Audit: City Director Steered Work Toward Son’s Company

(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.


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