The suspended executive director of the Williamsburg Housing Authority, who had been in jail since his Labor Day arrest, was released on bond Monday evening, and the housing authority could hire an interim director as soon as Wednesday afternoon.
Williamsburg Police Lt. Bobby Freeman arrested James R. Lovitt, 52, of Williamsburg, at his residence on Sept. 2 charging him with second-degree forgery and abuse of public trust over $10,000 but less than $100,000.
Lovitt is accused of forging checks from the housing authority in the names of other people, who never received the money nor did do any work for the housing authority, and profiting from that.
Lovitt pleaded not guilty during his Sept. 3 arraignment in Whitley District Court, and Judge Cathy Prewitt left his $25,000 cash bond unchanged.
Lovitt was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday morning, but instead his attorney, David Hoskins, informed District Judge Fred White that an agreement had been reached to modify Lovitt’s bond to a third-party $50,000 surety bond in exchange for Lovitt waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.
Whitley County Attorney Bob Hammons said that the investigating officer and Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird were both consulted and agreed with the modification.
A $50,000 third party surety bond means that someone could sign Lovitt out of jail, and that person agrees to forfeit $50,000 if Lovitt doesn’t return for court.
In early August, Williamsburg police received a tip about the possibility of misappropriated federal funds from the housing authority and began an investigation.
A few days later, Williamsburg police developed enough information to obtain a search warrant for housing authority records, and have sent out subpoenas for several financial records, which they are still sorting through, Bird said.
So far, the misappropriated money totals nearly $10,000.
“I think if we get the forensic audit and get assistance with that then I think they will go back the entire time (he was executive director). At least I hope so. That is going to show us when it started. I don’t want to speculate when it started, but I know it at least went back two years,” Bird noted.
Lovitt, who has worked for the housing authority for nearly 20 years, has been executive director since 2013.
The Williamsburg Housing Authority Board of Directors voted during a special meeting on Aug. 23 to suspend Lovitt with pay pending the outcome of a conclusive investigation by the Williamsburg Police Department.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison, who is a member of the housing authority board of directors, said Monday afternoon that Lovitt remains suspended with pay pending the outcome of the police investigation.
Harrison said that he had a meeting scheduled for Tuesday with Winter Wood Inc., which is a management company out of Lexington, regarding the group possibly serving as interim director of the housing authority.
The housing authority board of directors is slated to meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, and an executive session is planned to discuss how to move forward with a decision on the director, Harrison said.