November 17th, 2013 | City

Housing agency under investigation

New Haven’s Livable City Initiative (LCI), the agency charged with enforcing the city’s housing code, is under investigation for a series of claims made on city properties whose taxes have not been paid, according to documents made public two weeks ago.

The agency’s director, Erik Johnson, was subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in August to testify about these legal claims, or liens, from the city of New Haven.

“The FBI has an open investigation on some of LCI past activities,” according to documents prepared by the current city administration to help ease the transition of mayor-elect Toni Harp ARC ’78 into office this coming January. “The FBI has requested copies of liens that have been issued by the Department in 2012 and 2013. No other information has been requested.”

The subpoena requested all documents pertaining to fees, fines and liens that LCI levied on properties between Jan. 1, 2012 and July 31, 2013. In a spreadsheet LCI turned over to the FBI listing all liens on residential property owners and landlords, the agency reported having collected $77,178.35 from liens totaling $667,789.82. The money comes from back debts the government claimed after taking over neglected properties and then selling them back into an owner’s hands.

The grand jury investigation involves an alleged solicitation of a bribe by an agency employee, according to the New Haven Independent.

The Independent also quotes New Haven Mayor John DeStefano as saying that the matter was limited to the actions of a “field officer” and did not implicate any higher-ups.