Thursday, October 19, 2000

FBI puts Genesis investigation on hold

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati officials say the FBI “has elected not to proceed with further action” against a West End development group under scrutiny for how it spent tax dollars.

        Instead, federal authorities confirmed Wednesday they will assist local police in their investigation of Genesis Redevelopment Inc.

        “In view of the cooperation between the FBI, the local police and the prosecutor's office, the FBI will hold any further investi gation in abeyance,” said Cincinnati FBI spokesman Ed Boldt.

        But Genesis members, who for months have insisted they did nothing wrong, are taking it as a sign of vindication.

        “Evidently, the FBI isn't saying what the city wants them to say and so now they're turning it over to local police,” said Genesis board member Jackie Shropshire. “I'm happy, but I'm not surprised.”

        In a letter Wednesday to Cincinnati City Council members — who have repeatedly questioned the status of the investigation — Safety Director Kent Ryan said the police division “expects the completion of the investigation to take an additional thirty days.”

        City administrators asked investigators to probe Genesis, the development arm of the West End Community Council, in February, a day after the Enquirer reported on questionable purchases, hiring practices and possible conflicts of interest by board members.

        At that time, city administrators also announced Genesis funding had been frozen.

        Although Genesis was approved for $800,000 in federal grants to develop low-income housing since 1991, it has remodeled only its office, done minor repairs to 11 homes and built one other.

        Some members of Genesis were also named in a separate city audit of a pool of money paid to the West End Community Council, which showed board members since 1992 have made questionable purchases, hired family members and claimed thousands in unidentified expenses.


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