Former Casper WCDA Director Charged With Abusing Federal Funds
A former Casper resident who at one time led a division of the Wyoming Community Development Authority could spend up to a decade in prison for allegedly abusing federal dollars granted to the state agency.
Gayle Scarborough -- formerly known as Gayle Brownlee, born in 1958 -- was charged last week in Natrona County Circuit Court with one felony count of compensation for past official behavior and one misdemeanor count of conflict of interest.
The charges mark the culmination of investigative work by state and federal agents that began over four and a half years ago. K2 Radio News first reported on this case in May 2017.
Scarborough was the federal programs director for WCDA from prior to 2009 until she was fired May 16, 2016.
The investigation began in early December 2015 after a whistleblower contacted a special agent with the U.S. Department of Urban Development inspector general's office, alleging that federal money administered by Scarborough at WCDA was "being used to further fraud in the state."
One of the programs Scarborough supervised was the Wyoming Rehabilitation and Acquisition Program. Federally funded under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the program involves WCDA purchasing foreclosed or abandoned single-family houses and rehabilitating those properties for sale to income-eligible buyers.
Scarborough, who went through a divorce in 2014, started dating Gerry Hammond, owner of now-defunct Valley Construction in Cheyenne, prior to December 2013. She only awarded contracts for drug testing and remediation at WRAP properties to Hammond's company while they were romantically involved, without properly giving other contractors the opportunity to submit bids for those contracts.
Older court documents reference over $2.5 million WCDA paid to Valley Construction for testing, hazard remediation and remodeling involving 74 WCDA properties.
Of that figure, an audit by the HUD OIG revealed, some $918,000 was either awarded improperly or WCDA was not able to show the amount was "fair and reasonable."
Investigators say "many of the WCDA executives did not have any experience with federal programs and relied heavily on Scarborough's proficiency with the administration and execution of the program."
Court documents also state Scarborough "traveled extensively" from Casper, where she worked, to Cheyenne for WCDA projects. She stayed weekends at Cheyenne hotels, with government dollars covering her accommodations at rates higher than the approved state or federal lodging amounts.
On separate trips to Miami, Florida or Atlanta, Georgia for training, Scarborough would arrive several days early to visit friends and family, billing the lodging and meal costs to the government for her entire trip.
"It was determined that the lodging overage rates caused by Scarborough in 2014 and 2015 which was billed to the [federal programs] cost over $8,347.00," an affidavit reads in part.
In 2016, HUD gave WCDA several months to implement federal recommendations in the wake of Scarborough's alleged abuses.
WCDA Executive Director Scott Hoversland declined to comment Friday.
The Natrona County District Attorney's office was able to file the charges last week after working with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation to follow up on the case over the past 12-18 months, Assistant District Attorney Michael Schafer told K2 Radio News Friday.
Scarborough's attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.
In accordance with the summons issued in the case, Scarborough -- who resides out of state -- is due to answer to the charges on July 31 at 10 a.m. Should she not appear for her scheduled court hearing, a warrant would be issued for her arrest, although Schafer said her attorney has represented that Scarborough will comply with the summons.