An Oct. 25 trial date has been set in the felony theft case against the city’s former housing director, Kimberly Bunton, who was indicted on two felony theft charges last year.
The charges stem from a two-year police investigation of the housing department that revealed Bunton’s mother, Vickie Smallwood, received more than $2,000 in low-income assistance. The amount included $500 from a taxpayer-funded account dedicated to assisting poor children.
Authorities allege Bunton and her mother, who is also facing two counts of felony charges, stole that money from Metro Government to help Smallwood pay for her mortgage. Bunton said she believed her mother qualified for the assistance.
Appointed by former Mayor Jerry Abramson, who referred to her as a “change agent”, Bunton resigned three years ago amidst a growing scandal in the department and reimbursed the city with three separate checks, including $1,350 on behalf of her mother.
Months later a scathing state audit revealed layers of financial mismanagement during her tenure, including hundreds of thousands of dollars that were unaccounted for due to bad bookkeeping and that the agency had failed to meet reporting procedures required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
From LEO Weekly:
A report by State Auditor Crit Luallen’s office released Tuesday confirms the allegations of gross mismanagement of funds and a general lack of oversight that left one of Metro’s largest departments…in near-total disarray.
“It’s unusual for any large government agency to have this many audit findings, and especially audit findings of this serious nature,” auditor Crit Luallen said in a phone interview. “Overall, there is a total lack of accountability on the part of the management of the department.”
Former co-workers say Bunton played politics with her office, shifting employees out of their areas of expertise and generally ignoring the accounting problems. The audit confirmed much of this.
If convicted, the 39-year-old attorney faces a maximum fine of up to $10,000, five years in prison and possible disbarment.
Both Bunton and her mother have rejected plea deals offered by prosecutors that would have allowed them to avoid imprisonment.