GCN Special Report
Warr Homeowner Grant
Investigation Still Moving Forward
by Keith Burton - GCN 1/27/09
The federal investigation into whether Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr's received a Mississippi Development Authority Homeowner Grant illegally continues to move forward despite the absence of local major news media reports or public comments by Warr.
The last major news media reports on the case were in October. Then, according to a report in the Clarion Ledger, MDA officials who handled the distribution of the Homeowner Grants testified at the federal grand jury, but officials declined to say what they said to jurors. Witnesses are routinely ordered not to reveal their comments to anyone regarding grand jury testimony.
GulfCoastNews.com broke the story that Warr had a homeowner grant in an exclusive report in January 2008. The story has been largely ignored by the Coast's traditional news outlets who have said little to nothing over the past months. The issue of the investigation has been the source of considerable uncertainty for many people in the Warr administration as well as Gulfport residents who want to know what is going on with the case. Even the Clarion Ledger has been mostly quiet about the investigation. Their story in October appeared as a small item embedded in a that paper's politics column by reporter Natalie Chandler.
Over the past year, federal prosecutors have shown little leniency regarding Katrina fraud. Almost every month federal authorities announced arrests and convictions of individuals that have committed Katrina fraud.
Warr purchased the property from the nearby federal government's Armed Forces Retirement Home in 2003 and did not live in the home with his family prior to the August 29, 2005 hurricane.
In news reports shortly after GCN broke the story, Warr said he has done nothing wrong, but has not publicly commented on the investigation since the news initially surfaced.
On 1/06/09: There remains no word from the U.S. Attorney's office in Jackson regarding the status of the Grand Jury hearing information regarding the Warr Homeowner Grant case. Officials with the U.S. Attorneys have a policy of not commenting on Grand Jury activities. There has not been any official announcement to date from the Grand Jury regarding the case.
On 10/15/08: The Sun Herald newspaper finally filed a report on the federal grand jury investigation into Warr's receipt of a homeowner grant. The Sun Herald has been silent for most of a year regarding the investigation. In the Sun Herald's report: "Warr confirmed he has hired prominent Gulfport attorney Joe Sam Owen to represent him in the case." Warr said that he is cooperating with investigators.
Clarion Ledger Story Link:
Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr Has Homeowner Grant - GCN 1/4/08
Gulfport Mayor Under Investigation by Federal Authorities - WLOX 2/14/08