Former Chelsea housing chief Michael E. McLaughlin appears to have diverted millions in federal money from construction projects for low-income family and elderly housing, records show, freeing up an enormous slush fund that benefited himself, his family, and his friends, while leaving tenants to make do in dreary apartments that have not been updated in 50 years or more.
A Globe review of almost $9 million in federal funding paid to McLaughlin’s agency since 2002 found that more than $3.5 million of it was slated for projects that were not done, despite written promises to use the money to pay for new kitchen cabinets, baseboard heating, boilers, elevators, waterproofing, and other capital improvements.
Instead money went to lavish salaries and travel, to poorly documented everyday expenditures such as $530,000 paid to the city of Chelsea for trash pickup, and more unusual expenses such as the $165,000 the authority paid a social service agency that hired McLaughlin’s son Matthew to oversee maintenance work at the authority.
Today, investigators from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development are expected to descend on Chelsea Housing Authority headquarters, trying to account for all the federal money and requiring Chelsea to repay any money that was misused.
Chagrined HUD officials are urging the authority’s new leadership to admit past wrongdoing, rather than wait for the HUD investigators to find it.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week