Area housing nonprofit's director placed on leave over forgery allegations

By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 17, 2010; B05

The executive director of an affordable-housing nonprofit organization in the Washington area has been placed on paid leave after Fairfax County officials accused him of forging a zoning document to secure $700,000 in public loans.

Herbert J. Cooper-Levy, executive director of Robert Pierre Johnson Housing Development Corp. of the National Capital Area since 2001, was placed on leave Tuesday pending an internal investigation by the organization's board of directors, said Eric Bonetti, an RPJ Housing board member. Bonetti was named interim executive director. Last week, Fairfax County banned RPJ Housing from procuring any government contracts for three years unless Cooper-Levy was removed within 30 days.

Fairfax's purchasing and supply director, Cathy Muse, wrote that RPJ Housing "lacks the integrity, moral character, fitness and overall responsibility" to participate in publicly financed projects, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Washington Post.

Bonetti said a letter would be sent Tuesday to Fairfax County officials to inform them of the personnel action.

Cooper-Levy, 60, has not responded to phone calls and e-mails requesting comment, and he refused to meet a reporter who came to his Alexandria office Monday. He was paid a salary of $115,249 in 2008, according to federal nonprofit filings from that year.

Fairfax police found that RPJ Housing used the allegedly forged document to borrow money from the Virginia Housing Development Authority and the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, receiving about $511,000 from the state and $189,095 from the county to buy a three-story apartment building in Alexandria.

Fairfax Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Marc J. Birnbaum said that the case was referred to Alexandria and that his office has no plans to file charges.

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