Levelland Housing Authority Executive Director Cecilia Chavez was indicted in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Lubbock on charges of theft of federal funds as well as theft from program receiving federal funds.
According to the indictment released Thursday, Chavez as Executive Director of the Housing Authority received benefits in excess of $10,000 from the Public Housing Operating Fund and Public Housing Capital Fund of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The indictment also stated, in her position as director, and without authority, knowingly converted to her own, personal use property worth at least $5000 and wrongfully purchased items for personal use with the Housing Authority Credit accounts and wrongfully used Housing Authority Funds for personal use.
The indictment also stated that Chavez, upon conviction will transfer and convey to the United States US currency or personal property or assets equal to the amount of $44,460.09 which represents the amount of proceeds obtained through illegal means.
On Thursday night, the Board of Commissioners for the Levelland Housing Authority Board met in executive session. At the request of the board, City Manager Rick Osburn, Asst. City Manager Erik Rejino and City Secretary Beth Walls met with the board. Following a 45 minute closed meeting the board reconvened in open session and on a unanimous vote placed Executive Director Cecilia Chavez on unpaid administrative leave for 90 days. In order to keep the housing authority in operation, City Manager Rick Osburn will handle day to day operations on a very short term basis while the board works to find an interim director.
The housing authority is not operated by the city, and does not receive any local tax dollars. They are funded through federal funds. City staff said they were not aware of any investigation. They were advised by the city attorney not to make any further comment.