Last night, the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis announced a new Executive Director and a new Director of Public Safety to help turn around the beleaguered agency. However, Safety Director, Derek Matthews, was dismissed from his job at the Department of Homeland Security where he was the Regional Director for the Federal Protective Service when a scheme was uncovered to defraud the government. Matthews was convicted of bribery and served 15 months for his role in a larger scheme to defraud the US Government by accepting payments from a contractor in return for assistance in securing government contracts.
Last night, members of the City Council lauded the choice of Matthews who currently runs a consulting firm and previously was a Prince George’s County Sheriff. Ward 3 Alderwoman, Rhonda Pindell-Charles said, “I am quite impressed with Mr. Matthews and Mr. Colbert.” Ward 2 Alderman, Fred Paone recounted knowing Colbert as a child growing up in Annapolis and seemed pleased with his appointment.
It is unknown what vetting process was used prior to hiring Matthews or if the HACA Board was aware of the bribery conviction. While a conviction should not be an immediate disqualification, it does merit additional information. During the Cohen administration, former City Transportation Director Richard Newell was discovered to have a criminal record. The Council determined that the offense was far enough removed from the present day, that it would not impede Newell’s job. In fact, Newell went on to substantially turn the department around until he was terminated by the Pantelides administration.
According to court records, Matthews was sentenced in July of 2013, was released in October 2014, and served a one-year, supervised probation which ended in October 2015. He was hired by HACA in February 2016.
HACA has been plagued with resignations and mismanagement. There are currently two vacant seats on the Board, and Mayor Pantelides has shown no urgency in making new appointments. The City has no control over HACA, but does appoint their Board. The former Executive Director abruptly resigned along with several key employees and Board members last fall. A replacement Executive Director was hired and resigned the day before she was scheduled to begin.