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Posted at 6:31 PM ET, 04/ 7/2010

Head of affordable-housing group resigns

By Washington Post Editors

The executive director of a Washington-area affordable housing group implicated in a forgery scheme has resigned, and Fairfax County officials appear to be easing off plans to shut out the nonprofit from obtaining future government contracts.

Herbert J. Cooper-Levy, who ran the Alexandria-based Robert Pierre Johnson Housing Development Corp. of the National Capital Area since 2001, resigned March 25 and has retained an attorney after Fairfax County accused him of forging a zoning document to secure more than $700,000 in public loans, said Eric Bonetti, the firm's acting executive director.

Bonetti said Wednesday that an internal review of the accusations against Cooper-Levy is not complete, but he called the alleged forgery a "one-time isolated incident." Without elaborating on the details of the case, Bonetti said the nonprofit is changing its employee handbook regarding workplace ethics and plans to institute a whistleblower policy. The nonprofit is also working with Fairfax officials to lift the three-year ban on contracts the county instituted last month.

"We're cooperating and hope to have this matter settled soon," Bonetti said.

Cooper-Levy, 60, has not returned several phone calls and e-mails seeking comment. He was placed on paid administrative leave a day after the allegations became public, and Bonetti said Cooper-Levy resigned about a week later, shortly before a meeting of the company's board of directors.

RPJ Housing is barred from procuring any contracts from the county, but the county can review such decisions and make changes as it sees fits, said Purchasing Director Cathy Muse. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) said that RPJ Housing was "working well" with the county and that she expected officials to evaluate projects with the nonprofit on a case-by-case basis.

Fairfax County and Arlington prosecutors have declined to file charges in connection with the county's police probe into RPJ Housing. The Virginia Housing Development Authority, which provided about $511,000 in public funding for the company's purchase of an apartment building in Alexandria, is evaluating its contract with the firm.

-- Derek Kravitz

By Washington Post Editors  | April 7, 2010; 6:31 PM ET
Categories:  Virginia  | Tags:  Herbert J. Cooper-Levy resigns, Robert Pierre Johnson Housing Development Corp. of the National Capital Area  
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I'm not sure what it is about this affordable housing stuff that brings in people that like to fudge the numbers of what they get from the government. I think Hillary was on to something initially when she debated Obama about the Rezko but I guess she's fine with it now. Since there is obviously a trend to move towards more affordable housing we are going to have to make sure people know they've got to be honest (and pay their bills too).

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | April 7, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

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