Oakland Public Housing Tenants Exonerated
By Lynda Carson July 14, 2006
A case of fraud and corruption in the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) took a new turn during the week of July 10, after Carolyn Wilson a former employee of the OHA who was arrested on July 6, and charged with 65 felony counts, declared that the 34 families facing eviction at Oakland's Lockwood Gardens were not aware of any wrong doing or irregularities while moving into their housing units.
From St. Tammany Parish Jail, Lousiana; "I want people to know that the 34 families facing eviction by the Oakland Housing Authority at Lockwood Gardens were not aware of any wrong doing on their part, while moving into their public housing units," said Carolyn Wilson.
Wilson was arrested in Covington, LA., while working at a service company called Protocol, by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Department. "The Police came into our company and contacted the manager, and then they called Ms. Wilson away from her desk and arrested her," said Protocol's Human Resource Director, Courtney Toledo.
According to Joe Mann, Protocol's General Manager, Carolyn Wilson began work at their company on February 7, 2006.
On December 6, 2005, it was discovered that the computer files were altered in the OHA system, and after an audit, OHA management believed Carolyn Wilson moved people into public housing units that were not on the waiting list for conventional public housing.
Investigative documents mention that Wilson knowingly had collected money under false pretenses from families that she had moved into Lockwood Gardens, a Hope Vl project.
Wilson's arrest, occurred 6 days after the Alameda County district attorney's office filed 65 felony charges against her on Friday, July 7.
No charges have been filed against any of the tenants at Lockwood Gardens by the D.A.'s office.
Well aware of the accusations being made by the OHA against herself and the 34 families facing eviction, during two interviews that occurred on July 11 and 12, Carolyn Wilson defended the tenants that she claims are being wrongfully accused of criminal activity by the OHA.
Without admitting to any wrong doing on her own part, Carolyn Wilson said, "I want people to know that the tenants I have moved into Lockwood Gardens were not aware of any wrong doing during the period that they were moving into their housing units. I also wish to say that my ex-supervisor Denise Daniel, was not aware of any wrong doing in regards to the families facing eviction at Lockwood Gardens."
"The Oakland Housing Authority has been claiming that I fled the state," Wilson said. This is not true! I quit my job at the Housing Authority last December, and hung around the Bay Area till sometime in January 2006, before moving to Ponchatula, LA. I gave the OHA a forwarding address and had them mail my last pay check to me there. They knew where I was at, and knew where to find me at any time."
"I am fighting extradition back to Oakland," Wilson says. "Their case against me was so weak that the local Covington Police declined to arrest me, and they had to go through the Sheriff's Department to find someone to arrest me. In an effort to convince me to waive my rights, they are trying to scare me, and their telling me that it may take up to 6 months before I get an extradition hearing, and that I will not get any credit for time being served while I wait for the hearing."
The OHA Police had tried to apprehend Wilson last April, and bring her back to Oakland in what may have been an effort to dodge the extradition laws meant to protect the rights of a suspect. "It was Officer Malcolm Williams of the OHA Police Department, who tried to get me to meet him at a local Waffle House after I moved back to Lousiana, and upon the advice of an attorney, I declined to do so," said Wilson.
Indeed, on July 14, Officer Jerry Ribera of the OHA Police Department, confirmed that it was OHA Police Officer's Jerold Coates and Malcolm Williams who tried to apprehend Wilson at a Waffle House while in Lousiana, but failed to do so after she declined to appear.
"It was horrible at first to be arrested," Wilson says. "During the first day in the holding cell it was freezing and only around 30 degress in the cell to cover up all the odors. We froze our ass off! It's better now that I'm out side of the holding cell, and I do not know how long they plan to hold me."
Tyra Brown, the daughter of Carolyn Wilson, finds it incredible that the OHA would try to blame a lowly clerk typist for such a mess (Wilson was a clerk typist), and believes that her mother is a scapegoat for the corruption taking place in the OHA's East District Office.
Chanteel Holoman was delighted to hear that Wilson spoke up on behalf of the tenants facing eviction at Lockwood Gardens. "I am relieved," says Holoman. "This is what we have been saying all along! We're innocent! I can't tell you about the relief I'm feeling over what Carolyn Wilson has said. I don't have nothing bad to say about her, and I'm sorry to see that she took such a turn in life. It seems like she has lost everything."
Another tenant facing eviction who prefers to be called Ms. Kelly said, "I'm glad that Carolyn Wilson is telling the truth. I hope that this mess comes to an end soon, and I'm glad that she is getting a chance to say what is on her mind. We're all innocent and victims of this mess, and we have been portrayed as criminals by the OHA. It's not fair!"
During a July 14 interview with William Tingle, a prosecutor with the Alameda County D.A.'s office, he said, "Ms. Wilson has been arrested in Lousiana and facing extradition. She is the only one charged with any wrongdoing, and theres a range of sentencing options if she is found guilty of any of the charges against her. I can't say that there will be any charges against any of the tenants, because this is still under investigation."
When I pointed out that it took the OHA Police investigators 5 months to seek a search warrant for the computer used by Carolyn Wilson after it was discovered that someone altered the files in the computer system, I asked if this was really a serious investigation into what had occurred inside the OHA. William Tingle refused to make any further comments and ended the interview at that point.
The tenants fighting their evictions have said all along that they have signed leases, payed rents, gave security deposits to the OHA before moving into their units, and provided birth certificates, photo ID's, income verification and Social Security cards.
The tenants facing eviction, have been claiming all along that they have done everything the OHA asked of them before moving into their housing units.
It was during March of 2006, that the OHA directed the OHA Police to serve 5 Day Notices to 34 families at Lockwood Gardens, demanding that everyone must surrender their housing units in 5 Days, or else face eviction.
On April 27, of 2006, the OHA publicly announced that a former employee (Carolyn Wilson) was involved in 34 instances of fraud and theft during the process of moving 34 families into their public housing units. At the same time, the OHA believes that the 34 families moved into their public housing units by Carolyn Wilson are in some manner responsible for the alleged fraudulent activities of their own agent.
The OHA declared that the 34 families moved into their housing units at Lockwood Gardens by Carolyn Wilson, were unlawful occupants and are facing eviction because they failed to sign leases, provide ID's or income verification before moving in.
During mid May, Superior Court Judge Winifred Y. Smith issued two rulings declaring that the OHA did not properly state a cause to evict the tenants at Lockwood Gardens. "On the basis of the facts pleaded and judicially noticeable, defendants entered the property with consent and a claim for forcible detainer will not lie," ruled Judge Smith.
On June 5, the OHA amended their eviction complaint to the courts in an effort to try to evict the families all over again, after failing the first time.
Attorneys' for the Eviction Defense Center, East Bay Community Law Center and Bob Salinas from the law firm of Sundeen Salinas and Pyle continue to defend the tenants at Lockwood Gardens.
Lynda Carson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org