CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Flood waters devastated many communities in the Mountain State three years ago, but many people continue to complain that flood relief remains slow or never came at all. U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart says he is launching a formal investigation because hundreds of millions in federal tax dollars were sent to West Virginia, and how some were spent can’t be accounted for.
“I think this type of investigation can provide some certainty from that, but I also hope we learn from this.”
Q: And if there was criminal wrongdoing, you’re not going to hesitate to put people in jail?
“I’ve never hesitated to put people in jail who deserved to go to jail,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart, Southern District of West Virginia.
Items that may get a deeper look are contracts we uncovered this week. Those contracts promised tens-of-thousands of dollars to flooded out homeowners if their houses were torn down. In many cases, the homes were demolished, but the owners never received any money.
“It’s been frustrating for everybody. And that’s the reason we’re putting this subcommittee together, is to be able to get those people their money,” said State Sen. Glenn Jeffries, (D-Putnam).
Disaster aid in the City of Richwood will be looked at. $2.7 million federal aid dollars can’t be accounted for, and four past or present officials are facing state embezzlement charges.
The key is whether any federal money was misappropriated or stolen.
“We’re going to take a deep dive, take a look at how the dollars were spent. If dollars were spent inappropriately I’ve said this before, there’s no such things as a little bit of public corruption. Federal taxpayer dollars intended by FEMA and Housing and Urban Development to get folks back on their feet, to help people in critical need, need to be used for those purposes,” said Mike Stuart, U.S. Attorney.
The State Auditor is running a separate investigation over how flood aid was spent or misspent.
While some people face state criminal charges over how disaster aid funds were handled after the 2016 floods, there now exists the possibility that some people could face federal criminal charges as well.