MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Personal information abandoned in a former public housing complex by the same government agency that was supposed to protect it. It's just one of a long list of major problems found during an investigation of the Shelby County Housing Authority.
The word "mismanagement" is used over and over again in a federal report on the Shelby County Housing authority.
No one lives at the Horton Gardens public housing complex in Northaven anymore. The federal government says the Shelby County Housing Authority abandoned the property in 2010 without permission.
When investigators went to the site they found it was overgrown with weeds. Thieves had stripped buildings. Left behind were former tenants' files with personal information.
The former Executive Director, Ed Pearlman, denies it happened. "No files were left behind, there no files were left out there," he said. "During our move everything was removed from the offices."
The truth is a picture tells another story. It was taken by investigators who say they found dozens of files with tenants' social security numbers, bank account and driver's license information.
Investigators also say the housing authority improperly handled low income rental vouchers. Money was misspent. There was sloppy book keeping. Staff either didn't know or chose to ignore federal requirements.
According to the report the former Executive Director was terminated, which is something he denies.
"I decided to take some personal time off work," Pearlman stated. "It was a mutual thing."
However, despite being off the payroll since last year, Pearlman told abc24.com, "I still consider myself the Executive Director."
Because of all the mismanagement, the Shelby County Housing Authority is working on a plan to merge with the Memphis Housing Authority. That merger could be complete sometime this spring.