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May 8, 2014

Shoch keeps heat on grant boss

Cleared by federal audit, Jeremiah being bullied, Clausi says

SUNBURY — Northumberland County Commissioner Rick Shoch is concerned with statements made by Kathy Jeremiah, the county planning commission’s grants manager, who said she wasn’t initially aware her brother received utility assistance from the county’s Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing grant program.

Fellow Commissioner Vinny Clausi is calling Shoch a bully for picking on Jeremiah when she was cleared by a federal auditor for any wrongdoing.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development auditors determined last week that the county failed to keep accurate records of the grant and must repay $177,873, which includes $1,440 in assistance that Jeremiah’s brother, Michael Faust, was given.

In that audit that references her brother’s case, HUD cleared Jeremiah of any criminal activity, but cited a conflict of interest in its demand for the county’s repayment of $1,440.

Shoch provided two documents from Faust’s case file that show Jeremiah was aware of her brother’s application, but the time line of when she had that knowledge is unclear.

One of the documents show a handwritten note from Jeremiah labeling Faust as her brother on a bill from Shamokin-Coal Township Joint Sewer Authority to Kathleen Jeremiah C/O Michael Faust, 1766 W. Chestnut St., Coal Township.

The handwritten letter is addressed to Gregg Stavinski, director of adult services, whose department was involved with the grant in question.

“Here’s my brother’s app for your file. He said he called PPL last week because they were turning off power this week. Thanks, Kathy,” it reads.

Jeremiah needs to explain this note, Shoch said.

In response, Jeremiah said she first became aware of her brother’s application when she saw his name on a spreadsheet in early 2010.

It wasn’t until after case manager Dodie Lovett was fired in September 2011 that Jeremiah said she wrote the note.

Stavinski, who replaced Lovett, had asked Jeremiah to contact her brother to request he submit a second application and provide further documentation of his financial troubles because of the mishandled case files, Jeremiah said.

The grant program was shut down only months later, Jeremiah said.

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