Warrant: Fresno County employee took $16,000 from developer as he negotiated big housing deal – Fresno, California

Fresno, California 2021-04-07 21:51:36 –

Fresno, CA (KFSN)-Fresno’s affordable large-scale housing project is back in plan, and Action News digs deeper into the criminal activity allegedly suspending it.

The Fresno City Council unanimously resolved on Wednesday to withdraw from the project at an old university medical center in southeastern Fresno.

A popular plan was to turn the devastated old university medical center hospital into an elderly center and several retail stores, in addition to 800 new housing units.

Relation: Developers plan to turn old Fresno hospitals into affordable homes

However, after a pandemic and financial delay, we ran into a new hurdle on Wednesday.

“This is a very unfortunate predicament for the region, and residents who want to see the property will prosper sooner or later,” said Nelson Esparza, vice president of the Fresno City Council.

He called an emergency meeting to remove the city from the deal.

Fresno County has agreed to own the building and sell it to CMG Construction, which is planning a renovation.

CMG can be purchased without competitive bidding, as it will be a 40% affordable home.

The city’s only involvement is to ensure that it complies with affordable housing standards. Without that regulation, trading wouldn’t work.

They agreed to do so in 2019, but this week Esparza said it should be withdrawn because county employees who were deeply involved in the deal faced serious conflicts of interest. It was.

“We can’t conscientiously take any other view of these open claims and issues, and how this project could be realized in the first place,” Esparza said. ..

Steve Lapada was arrested in October and Action News can report the reason for the first time.

Supervisor Sal Quintero’s Chief of Staff spent several months helping to negotiate a deal between the county and the CMG.

The arrest warrant reveals that the county has found an email from Lapada’s personal account to the CMG owner.

According to investigators, Lapada’s loyalty to the deal was to CMG, not the county, and bank records indicate that he charged CMG a consulting fee of at least $ 25,000 after the deal was closed. .. He raised about $ 16,000.

I tried to contact the owner of CMG and Rapada, but I couldn’t.

The CMG owner told investigators that he had paid Lapada for other work unrelated to the UMC project, and that Lapada’s criminal defense lawyer had no conflicts of interest.

He will appear in court in May.

The contract is not necessarily dead. CMG can find another agency that regulates aspects of affordable housing. The county usually does not do that, especially for large projects.

Without new regulatory agreements, counties may need to find new buyers.

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