MEDFORD - Medford Housing Authority chief Robert Covelle hired his close friend and bocce teammate to a $53,000-a-year job, demoting a staff member to create the opening, his employees say. He hired his son’s girlfriend in a no-bid contract to do more than $4,000 worth of seasonal decorations in the office, according to federal investigators. He created a new $85,000-a-year job that went to a family friend of Mayor Michael J. McGlynn of Medford.
And when two employees complained separately in writing to the Medford Housing Authority board about Covelle’s alleged attempts to get jobs and subsidized housing for insiders, each was suspended from work, for allegedly being rude or for showing anger, according to records and interviews.
The housing authority in this blue-collar city of 55,000 has been under siege since last June when state officials first visited the Riverside Avenue headquarters to investigate allegations of widespread favoritism in hiring and contracting under Covelle, the brother-in-law of the late Middlesex County sheriff, James DiPaola.
It is illegal for public officials to use their official position to help friends or family get jobs or contracts.
In recent months, state troopers have raided authority offices, carrying out boxes of documents, while authority officials have been called to testify before a state grand jury that is considering criminal charges. Last week, some city councilors called for Covelle’s resignation after a federal audit showed almost $1.4 million in questionable spending in a 15-month period, including the $4,355 paid to decorator Erica DeCrescenzo, now married to Covelle’s son.
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