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Joliet Housing Authority CFO fired after accusations of misdeeds at CHA

Charlene Potts chief financial officer Joliet Housing Authority was charged scheme thdefrauded Chicago Housing Authority nearly $200000.

Charlene Potts, the chief financial officer of the Joliet Housing Authority was charged in a scheme that defrauded the Chicago Housing Authority of nearly $200,000.

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Updated: September 11, 2013 6:15AM

JOLIET — The Joliet Housing Authority’s chief financial officer, who along with her estranged husband recently was accused of embezzling nearly $200,000 from the Chicago Housing Authority, has been fired from her post in Joliet.

Charlene Potts was fired effective Tuesday, the same day she was arrested at work and charged with embezzling funds from the CHA, said Michael Simelton, the JHA’s interim CEO.

Potts, 42, now of Richton Park, and Scott Washington, 48, of Park Forest, both have been charged in the alleged scheme.

A scheduled special meeting of the JHA Board of Commissioners was cancelled Thursday after concerns it could have violated the state’s Open Meetings Act. A board meeting has been scheduled for next Wednesday, Simelton said.

Simelton said he did not need approval to make the move.

Potts had been earning $75,000 a year from the JHA.

JHA attorney Eric Hanson said commissioners were planning to have a forensic audit to review the agency’s records and were scheduled to meet with a local auditing firm on Friday.

Joliet Councilman Larry Hug said Thursday he thought “there probably needs to be an audit by an outside agency.”

Simelton, who said he was present Tuesday when authorities arrested Potts, said he has not been in contact with her.

Since the arrest, Simelton said, agency officials have removed her name from bank accounts and payroll and deactivated her accessibility to those. Simelton said he would be sending Potts a letter informing her that she had been terminated.

Simelton said he did not believe Potts’ alleged criminal activity continued when she worked for the Joliet housing agency. Authorities who arrested Potts on Tuesday said her arrest “had nothing to do with the Housing Authority of Joliet,” Simelton said.

“I don’t know, but we’re going to take steps to make sure,” he said. “It’s not out of the norm for, in something like this, that you would bring in a firm to do a forensic review.”

Potts joined the Joliet agency in 2010 as a temporary employee to help new residents move into the Liberty Meadows apartment complex, city officials said. Potts had been the Joliet agency’s CFO since August 2011, Simelton said. Simelton was appointed as the agency’s interim CEO in June 2012, he said.

According to court records, Potts had filed for bankruptcy about the time she was hired in Joliet and had claimed she owed more than $280,000, mostly on a mortgage for her house in Crete.

Meanwhile, JHA chairperson Susie Barber resigned from the agency’s board of commissioners on Wednesday, Simelton said.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire

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