GMF search warrants come after trail of problems

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A spokesperson with the HUD Office of Inspector General confirmed with WREG it worked in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office to execute search warrants in Memphis and in Dexter, Missouri (at a third party location) Wednesday related to Global Ministries Foundation.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District said, "The U.S. Attorney's Office can confirm that federal agents have served search warrants on multiple Global Ministries Foundation locations in Memphis and Missouri today."

Records show GMF used an appraisal company based in Dexter, MO for appraisals conducted on a group of four properties it purchased in Indiana in 2013.

Meanwhile our CBS sister station in Indianapolis reported raids there.

Previous media reports show the Indianapolis Housing Agency accused GMF of welfare fraud and asked it to repay thousands of dollars.

WREG has been looking into GMF's problems for more than a year now.

After hundreds of code violations and failed inspections, HUD pulled its rental assistance payment funding from two GMF properties in Memphis earlier this year.

Since then, residents from the Warren Apartments and Tulane Apartments were provided with Section 8 vouchers to move elsewhere.

Bondholders also filed suit, another management company took over as a receiver for the properties as GMF works to sell them and others across the Southeast.

The On Your Side investigators also uncovered the company spent minimal dollars on repairs.

Meanwhile its President Richard Hamlet was pulling in nearly a half a million dollar salary and his wife and children were on the payroll.

Tax records also showed on more than one occasion, money was moved from GMF's housing non-profit to its religious non-profit.

News Channel 3 also uncovered several audits where reported amounts didn't match up with what auditors found.

Congressman Steve Cohen, who has been vocal about Global Ministries in the past released the following statement:

"Any time federal money is involved, there needs to be due diligence to see if the money is being spent in accordance with its intended purpose. There was obviously probable cause that something was done inappropriately or the warrant would not have been issued. It is good that the HUD Office of Inspector General is investigating the Global Ministries Foundation, and there should be more efforts like this ensure federal money is spent well."

Senator Marco Rubio recently pressed for an investigation into GMF. He said in a statement, ‎"It's about time that federal investigators go after the slumlords at Global Ministries Foundation for stealing millions in taxpayer dollars and forcing residents across the country, including three Florida properties, to live in deplorable public housing conditions.”

Rubio added, "This investigation is just getting started, but I am confident these slumlords will be held accountable for stealing money and endangering the public health and safety of families."

A GMF spokesperson didn't provide details on the raids. A statement read,

"GMF is fully cooperating with recent HUD inquiries and requests for documentation, and we will continue to aid HUD and other government representatives should they have additional inquiries. In the interim, GMF remains focused and committed to its mission to provide housing to some of America’s families most in need of safe, affordable housing."

 

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