DURHAM — JoAnn Davis, the Chatham County Housing Authority executive director indicted on fraud and accused of taking more than $200,000 in kickbacks from bogus contracts she awarded to family members and friends, pleaded not guilty this morning to charges wire fraud, identity theft and obstruction.
Davis made her appearance at the U.S. Middle District of North Carolina Court in Durham.
She was arrested Friday after being named in a 19-count federal indictment filed on Feb. 13.
Prosecutors say Davis, who has run CCHA since July 2012, used her position to fraudulently award contracts for services — including housing inspections, staff training and client workshops — to friends and family members. In return, Davis allegedly received “kickbacks” from those friends and family members — allowing them to keep small percentages of the payments after they returned most of the cash to her — even though the services were never performed for the housing authority.
Chatham's Housing Authority, according to its website, oversees federal funds to help qualified low-income residents with their rental payments. The authority also works with some families in the rental subsidy program to develop a five-year plans to become self-sufficient and help others in the program become homeowners through subsidized mortgages.
During Thursday morning's arraignment, prosecutors revealed a search warrant had been executed and evidence was collected and is being analyzed for further information. A status hearing on the evidence is set to be heard on March 10.
Criminal Defense Attorney Alvin Hudson represented Davis for her arraignment. Hudson had no comment following the arraignment.
"We'll wait and see how this plays out," said Hudson.
Hudson said Davis had not seen the affidavit before today.
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.