Williamsburg Housing Authority executive director placed on administrative leave due to ongoing police investigation

A 2016 file photo of James Lovitt. | File photo

WILLIAMSBURG — Williamsburg Housing Authority Executive Director James Lovitt has been placed on administrative leave with pay due to an ongoing investigation by the Williamsburg Police Department that has had FBI involvement.

Lovitt's administrative leave with pay was made effective immediately during a special-called Housing Authority Board meeting Friday afternoon. The administrative leave is pending a conclusive investigation and also pending the results of the investigation, the director's name will be removed from all accounts, Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison said on Friday.

Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said about three weeks ago the department began investigating Lovitt and two-and-a-half weeks ago his department executed a search warrant at the Williamsburg Housing Authority office with assistance from the FBI.

"We're still investigating, we're still looking at financial records," Bird said Friday afternoon.

The FBI assisted the Williamsburg Police Department on the electronic part of it, Bird said, but the FBI's involvement could expand.

"If we find anything that meets their threshold, then there is a possibility there could be federal charges, but right now we're still going through financial records and there's a lot of them, so it may be a little while," Bird said.

Bird said the department began the investigation after receiving information in regards to some misappropriations with the finances at the Williamsburg Housing Authority.

Although the investigation is not complete, Bird said once it is, the department will present the findings to the Whitley County grand jury.

Bird said in addition to the FBI, the department has been working with the HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) Office in Louisville and the HUD Office of Inspector General out of Memphis, Tennessee.

Mayor Harrison said the Williamsburg Housing Authority Board was informed of the investigation by Bird a couple of weeks ago.

According to policy until the investigation is complete, administrative leave was the answer, Harrison said. The board will await the outcome of the police department's investigation to determine how to proceed.

Harrison said the board was advised by Bird a couple of weeks ago about the investigation.

Lovitt has held the position of executive director for about five or six years, Harrison said. Lovitt had been an employee for 14 years prior to becoming the executive director, according to Housing Authority Board Chairman Johnny Brown.

As executive director Lovitt maintained the day-to-day operations of the Williamsburg Housing Authority.

The Housing Authority Board consists of Chairman Johnny Brown, Bill Brown, Larry Prindle and Harrison who were present at the meeting on Friday. Debbie Mays, who is also on the board, was unable to make it due to work obligations.

"We are going to consult with the regional Housing Authority moving forward," Harrison said of who will be managing the day-to-day operations.

Lovitt was aware of the investigation, according to Bird, and Harrison said a letter would be given to Lovitt Friday afternoon notifying him of the board's decision to put him on administrative leave without pay, pending the outcome of the investigation.

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