Cops: Ex-Fairfield Housing Authority official illegally posted videos on 'scandal'
Updated 7:31 pm, Monday, July 14, 2014
Another former top official at the Fairfield Housing Authority is facing criminal charges in less than two years.
Michael L. Gurge, the FHA's former deputy director, was charged Monday with second-degree harassment and fifth-degree computer crime for posting agency documents on YouTube under video headings of "Fairfield Housing Authority Scandal Part 1" and "Fairfield Housing Authority Scandal Part 2."
Gurge, 39, of Post Street in Bridgeport, turned himself in at police headquarters on a warrant and is scheduled to appear July 21 in Bridgeport Superior Court.
A former executive director of the FHA, Elizabeth Guttierez, was charged in February 2013 with embezzling $30,000 in federal funds from the agency to cover personal debts. She pleaded guilty to one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and was sentenced last November to five years of probation, the first six months of which she was required to spend in home confinement under electronic monitoring She also was ordered to pay back the $30,000.
The videos posted by Gurge in July 2013, under the YouTube account name "FHA Exposed," outlined issues that the agency was having in 2011 when Gutierrez, who was then FHA's executive director, resigned abruptly in December of that year.
Gurge later gained access to FHA documents, which included general ledgers and accounts payable, that are supposed to be accessible only to agency employees who have a log-in account and password, said Lyddy.
"They could have neglected to change the passwords or the passwords could have been compromised. They're not sure," Lyddy said of FHA employees.
Lyddy said investigators determined from the Internet Protocol address where the YouTube videos had come from and applied for an arrest warrant in May. Personal information of an FHA employee appeared in one of Gurge's videos, which was the basis of the harassment charge, Lyddy said.
According to the arrest warrant, Erol Skyers, a lawyer representing Gurge, told investigators that "Gurge did, in fact, post the videos in question."
However, Skyers told police that Gurge had him that someone else had provided the FHA documents. When Skyers was asked who that other person was, he told investigators that Gurge had not told him, the warrant states.
Gurge has filed a federal lawsuit against Fairfield Housing Authority officials over his dismissal.
First Selectman Michael Tetreau said Monday afternoon that he knows little about Gurge's arrest.
"The Fairfield Housing Authority is a separate organization," he said. "They have no connection to the town except that the FHA board of directors is appointed by the [Fairfield] Board of Selectmen."
Tetreau said he had heard that there was a video posted in the wake of the FHA embezzlement scandal, but he had not seen it. "I'm not a YouTube kind of person," Tetreau said.
"I don't know what Michael Gurge was accused of. I have no details on the arrest," the first selectman added. He referred calls to Martin, the agency's current executive director. Martin was out of the office at a business meeting Monday.
The federal charge against Gutierrez was filed for writing two $15,000 checks to a vendor that was never hired and then depositing the money in her checking account to pay off credit card debt in the summer of 2011. In December 2011, she took a leave of absence from the FHA post for medical reasons, only to resign at the end of that month. The following month, Gutierrez resurfaced in Truth or Consequences, N.M., as the executive director of its housing authority. She was fired from that job in November 2012.