05/25/12 — Former housing official faces jail time

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Former housing official faces jail time

By From staff reports
Published in News on May 25, 2012 1:46 PM

NEW BERN -- A former Goldsboro Housing Authority official faces up to five years in prison on his plea of guilty Wednesday in federal court to charges of making material false statements.

The charge pertains to Jimmie Lewis Farmer's failure to disclose his ownership of stock in Progress Energy on a conflict of interest questionnaire while handling the bidding and administration of the Progress Energy contract for the housing authority.

Sentencing has not be been scheduled.

Housing Authority Director Gene Thomas said that Farmer, 59, was suspended with pay on March 15 after the allegations came to light. Farmer, who had worked for the authority for 12 and a half years, submitted his retirement papers during that time.

His retirement was effective May 21.

In a separate case, Farmer is still facing charges of obstruction and making a false statement to a federal agent concerning a bid from All American Roofing.

Four jobs at the housing authority were awarded to the firm with one of the projects having only one, backdated, bid.

Those charges arose from investigation into a bid-rigging scheme involving All American Roofing and Wayne County Public Schools employees.

In the case involving the contracts with Progress Energy, a May 17 indictment alleges that as director of development, Farmer was obligated to ensure that the authority and its employees complied with the regulations and policies of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the authority relating to construction and renovation work for the authority.

According to court documents, Farmer was involved in securing sole source contracts for Progress Energy and was directly involved in the administration of the contracts.

However, Farmer, who owns more than 1,000 shares of Progress Energy, executed a conflict of interest document on Jan. 11, but failed to disclose his ownership interest, which HUD forbids.

Sole source contracts are for the purchase of services or materials that are available from only one source.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore prosecuted the case.