Local/State

PHA board fires director Carl Greene

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The embattled executive director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority was fired Thursday, weeks after allegations surfaced that he used public money to settle sexual harassment complaints and coerced top employees to pay into a slush fund.

The board of the nation's fourth-largest housing agency voted 4-1 to terminate Carl Greene, who has been on leave since last month.

RELATED: Read the entire report here

The PHA board was presented with the report after an internal investigation over the past month.

It concludes that Greene, executive director of 12 years, was "a true serial sexual harasser."

The report says Greene cost the authority close to a million dollars by arranging to settle four sexual harassment claims against him while keeping the board in the dark.

Board Chairman John Street says he personally conducted the investigation and issued the report.

The board, along with federal prosecutors, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is investigating secret agreements the housing agency made to pay $900,000 to female employees who accused Greene of sexual harassment.

Also, a former aide has charged in a lawsuit that about 300 employees were coerced to pay up to $130 a year each toward a Greene-controlled slush fund to keep their jobs.

The report says, "It was well known throughout PHA that any woman who refused Carl Greene's advances would be subjected to harsh, unfair and abusive treatment."

During the board meeting Street called Greene the Tiger Woods of Public Housing.

"He's a housing development genius, but he has a flawed personality, he has a character flaw, and we have seen it come out in an unconscionable way and maybe, he's some place trying to get some help for it," Street said.

Greene's lawyer Clifford Haines says he is still undergoing outpatient medical treatment out of state and is unavailable for comment.

Even before he was fired, Greene sued the board for dismissal without cause and for ruining his reputation.

"At a certain level, Carl Greene has become a victim, too. Whatever the allegations are and however they play out his reputation has been destroyed by this," Haines said.

Board members were served with more court papers as they entered today's meeting.

Street says the board will try to recover from Greene the money spent on lawyers and the harassment settlements.

Mayor Michael Nutter was not surprised by the firing, but he said Thursday that larger questions still remain - including how Greene was able to keep the settlements from the board for so long. The claims date to 2004.

"It is still unanswered as to how he was able to put together such a conspiracy of silence," Nutter told The Associated Press. "If (the board's) defense is, 'We didn't know,' then the rest of us have to ask, 'How is it possible that you didn't know?' It defies logic and credibility that all of these things could be kept away from the board for so long a period of time."

Greene, who earned about $350,000 annually, received kudos during his 12 years on the job for moving low-income residents out of crime-ridden high-rises and into rowhouse-style units.

He left the state to seek medical care after being placed on leave. Haines said Thursday that Greene remains out-of-state and, while no longer an in-patient, is receiving medical care on a regular basis.

Greene has sued the Housing Authority, alleging breach of contract and violating his due process rights. He is seeking at least $600,000 for the two years remaining on his contract.

A Housing Authority spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the end, the taxpayers lose in what could be a lengthy court battle unfolds.

But, as of today, the Carl Greene era is officially over and the search for a replacement is under way.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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philadelphia, pennsylvania, carl greene, local/state
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