Federal Investigation Into Brent Warr's Homeowner Grant
Still On Going
by Keith Burton - GCN 8/2/08
GulfCoastNews.com confirmed with certainty this week that a federal investigation into Mayor Brent Warr's receipt of a state Homeowner Grant is still underway and is nearing a level of maturity that could lead to an action by a federal grand jury.
GCN now knows the specific agencies involved in the investigation, they are the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, and the Mississippi State Auditor's Office Katrina Fraud Unit. Until now, the specific agencies involved in the investigation had not been known.
Since early this year, federal agents have been quietly collecting documents, interviewing witnesses and collecting information on activities within the city of Gulfport and Warr's receipt of the grant. Their activities appear to be connected to a story GCN ran in January over Warr's receipt of a Homeowner Grant on his beachfront home that has been undergoing extensive renovations, a home that Warr and his family have never lived in.
While there has been very little information on the investigation over the months since it was revealed in the news media, the investigation of the grant has been quietly gaining steam in the background. The unusual silence in the major media could partially be due to efforts to downplay the investigation, both WLOX and the Sun Herald were instrumental in supporting Warr in his election in 2005. The silence has also kept pressure off of Warr at a time when he is trying to manipulate major changes in how that city's government functions. Warr recently established a questionable Gulfport Development Commission and is planning to rewrite major portions of the city's zoning ordinance to push through his vision of how the city should be developed, including land the city is to acquire at the former VA Hospital on the beach. Just this week, Warr was informed by Cong. Gene Taylor that he is seeking to require the VA property to be public, or revert back to the federal government, clearly changing what plans Warr had for the property's development.
Over the last eight months, federal prosecutors and a federal grand jury have been successful in charging and convicting a growing number of individuals with Katrina fraud in connection with receiving state Homeowner Grants on homes they did not live in at the time of the hurricane, a requirement to receive the grants. These grants can be for as much as $150,000 and intended to help people rebuild homes lost during the storm that were outside the federal flood zone.
Among the requirements is that the home must have been their primary residence and occupied by the homeowner at the time Katrina slammed into the Coast. Since moving to Gulfport prior to running for mayor, Warr and his family have lived in a home owned by a relative just off of Courthouse Road in the Woodglen Subdivision.
Gulfport Mayor Under Investigation by Federal Authorities - WLOX 2/14/08