Robert L. Moore, a former D.C. government housing director who was hired last fall as executive director of the Camden Housing Authority, has been fired from that post and is under investigation by the FBI for possible misuse of Camden housing funds, according to New Jersey officials.
The Camden Housing Authority dismissed Moore after officials objected to more than $1,500 in expenditures on his behalf, including a $973 hotel bill and the purchase of a $269 color television, said Wayne R. Bryant, the authority's attorney.
Bryant said that the authority has ordered Moore to reimburse the city for the questioned expenditures, but that it has not heard from Moore since before he was fired at a closed meeting March 20. The authority has sent letters to Moore's last known addresses in Camden and Washington, Bryant said, but "all I know is his mail comes back, 'Left no forwarding address.' "
Bryant said that Moore, whose appointment in Camden sparked a controversy over his role in supervising the District's troubled Bates Street redevelopment project, was cited for mismanagement, unsatisfactory job performance and "breach of fiduciary responsibility" when the authority unanimously voted to fire him.
Moore was hired for the $45,000-a-year post last October by a 4-to-3 vote of the authority over the objections of Camden Mayor Melvin R. (Randy) Primas Jr.
Moore, who ran the D.C. housing department from 1979 through late 1982 during Mayor Marion Barry's first term, had the primary responsibility for overseeing the $13 million Bates Street project, once touted as the showpiece of Barry's housing program but for years beset by serious financial and construction problems.
A federal grand jury has been investigating the project, and three of the developers have pleaded guilty to felony tax charges related to their receipt of project funds.
Moore's role in the Bates Street project was investigated by federal prosecutors and the FBI after The Washington Post reported in 1984 that he had thousands of dollars of remodeling work done on his home by companies that at the same time were subcontractors on the project. Moore told The Post that he had paid for all the work.
Sources familiar with the investigation said last year that Moore provided prosecutors with canceled checks that supported his statements that he paid for the work, and they said the matter was closed.
Bryant, the Camden authority's attorney, said the housing agency has referred information about Moore to the Camden County prosecutor and the U.S. attorney's office for New Jersey.
Officials in the Camden prosecutor's office decided recently to let the FBI take sole responsibility for the investigation because the housing authority receives both federal and state funds, according to Norman Muhlbaier, an assistant Camden prosecutor.
According to the Courier-Post newspaper in Camden, Moore told officials there that the $973 hotel bill, which was for his living expenses before he obtained a permanent residence, was paid by the authority staff by mistake and without his knowledge. He also told the housing authority that the television set was for his office, because he often worked there after normal business hours, the newspaper said.
Moore also fell behind on the rent for the $550-a-month apartment he leased in Camden and eviction proceedings were started against him, according to Thomas Hughes, a developer who was involved in renting the apartment to Moore. Another person familiar with the deal said that the landlord subsequently was reimbursed for about $1,500 in back rent and court costs, and the eviction proceedings were dropped.