03/30/04 — Homestead's financial records missing

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Homestead's financial records missing

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Published in News on March 30, 2004 2:00 PM

GREENSBORO -- The computer server that contains Project Homestead's financial records has been missing since the day before the nonprofit home builder filed for bankruptcy liquidation, Homestead's court-appointed bankruptcy trustee told the Greensboro News & Record on Monday.

Project Homestead is a nonprofit group that has built houses in Goldsboro on Harris Street for flood victims and first-time home buyers. The city has also been trying to get back land from Project Homestead that the organization borrowed money on. The city could lose grants if the land is not used for housing.

The State Bureau of Investigation, which is heading the criminal investigation into the nonprofit's finances, has a copy of the information that was on the server's hard drive, said Frank Brown, special agent in charge of the SBI's Greensboro office. A server can be accessed by other computers in a network.

But the disappearance of the server, which was in a back room at Homestead's office on South Elm Street in Greensboro, will be part of the SBI's investigation and could lead to possible criminal charges, Brown said.

There also may be information on the server that is not contained in the copy, which the city of Greensboro made during its recent audit, said trustee William Miller. The audit began in September, and the city issued its audit report Jan. 16, about two weeks before Homestead declared bankruptcy.

The SBI is leading an investigation into Homestead's finances that includes the FBI, IRS and investigators with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The probe began last summer.

In September, the Greensboro City Council ordered an audit of how Homestead had used about $5.7 million the city of Greensboro had granted Homestead between 1997 and 2001. Homestead's founder, the Rev. Michael King, resigned as president shortly before that audit began. He committed suicide Dec. 6 at his lakeside house in Rockingham County.