Monday, March 21, 2022

Mayor Turner's $15 Million Affordable Housing Contract involving His Former Law Partner Looms in the Shadows

Why are all of these people so quiet right about now? Well, do you remember that $15 Million Affordable Housing Contract that Mayor Sylvester Turner tried to give (in part) to his former law partner, Barry Barnes? Remember when Mayor Sylvester Turner claimed to not know that his former law partner was even a part of the deal? All of that being said, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and his "CITY COUNCIL CREW" can't call for County Judge Lina Hidalgo to resign because calls for Mayor Turner to resign possibly come next after the authorities really start to dig into his corrupt ways.

Mayor Turner's Canceled $15 Million Affordable Housing Contract involving His Former Law Partner Looms in the Shadows


If you take a moment and look at the document below, you will clearly see the name, Barry M. Barnes. listed as Member, Harbor Venture Group, LLC, that's the date for February 23, 2021. Why is this significant? Well, this document was found on (PAGE 21) OF THE APPLICATION ELIGIBILITY CERTIFICATION (notarized) section of the 2021 Multifamily Uniform Application related to the $15 Million dollar project that Mayor Sylvester Turner ordered Tom McCasland to fund. Now, according to published reports, Mayor Sylvester Turner claimed to not know that Barry Barnes, his former long-time law partner was a partial owner until it was reported by the Houston Chronicle. Why did Mayor Turner lie? You can (CLICK HERE) and go to (PAGE 21) and look at the document that proves that Mayor Sylvester Turner, lied straight through his teeth.

HOUSTON, TEXAS 77058-3039
DIRECT CONTACT: (281)788-3033

The document you see above is (77) seventy-seven pages and is related to the project Mayor Sylvester Turner ordered Tom McCasland to fund, according to published reports. Now, for all of you who don't know, this particular project was partially owned by Mayor Sylvester Turner’s long-time, former law partner, Barry Barnes. Now, Mayor Sylvester Turner told the Houston Chronicle editorial board that he didn't even know that his former law partner Barry Barnes was even a partial owner until it that fact was revealed by the Houston Chronicle. Anyways, you can (CLICK HERE) review this document for yourself. And by doing so, you will clearly see that the name Barry Barnes appears in the "STATE APPLICATION" several times.

Do you know these two cats? Well, the guy with the arrow pointing to him is Mayor Sylvester Turner's long-time former law partner by the name of Barry Barnes. You know, the same former law partner, Mayor Sylvester Turner tried to give $6.7 million dollars in Hurricane Harvey relief money back in 2018. And the only reason why Mayor Turner wasn't successful was that the deal fell apart and the state of Texas ended up taking over the program." 

Right about now, Mayor Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, Texas is putting on a good front, but believe me when I tell you that this dude is shaking in his boots. Why? Well, when you see a fellow Black mayor, by the name of Jason Lary, step down and plead guilty to federal fraud charges, and you're under a probe regarding a $15 million Affordable Houston Project that has your former law partner's name all over it, yourself, sleeping well at night could become a little problematic.

A Guilty Plea Was Entered on Three Counts Involving Wire Fraud, Theft of Government Funds, and Conspiracy By the Former Mayor of Stonecrest 


Do you remember a few months ago, when Mayor Sylvester Turner mysteriously came down with COVID? Remember how he caught COVID on the very same day, Thursday, December 16, 2021, that the Federal Government was unsealing their indictment against Mayor Sylvester Turner's good friend, Rhonda Skillern-Jones??? Remember how he claimed that on the next day after Rhonda's indictment was unsealed, he went to get a COVID-19 test that came back positive?


Remember when back when Jason Lary, the former mayor of Stonecrest, Georgia pled guilty in federal court to stealing COVID-19 relief funds that were supposed to go to struggling businesses? So, in case you don't know, Lary admitted to diverting at least $650,000 dollars in COVID-19 relief money by requiring churches in Stonecrest, Georgia, and businesses to kick back a portion of their grant money to companies that he controlled.

HOUSTON, TEXAS 77058-3039
DIRECT CONTACT: (281)788-3033

Mayor of Stonecrest and bookkeeper arraigned on federal charges relating to the theft of COVID-19 relief funds

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

ATLANTA - Jason Lary, the Mayor of Stonecrest, Georgia, has been arraigned on federal charges of wire fraud, conspiracy, and federal program theft. The charges relate to a scheme to allegedly steal federal relief funds granted to Stonecrest to address the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lania Boone, a bookkeeper for the entity hired by Stonecrest to disburse the relief funds, has also been arraigned on a federal charge of conspiring with Lary to steal relief funds.

“Lary allegedly abused the power and trust conferred on him as Mayor of Stonecrest to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for COVID-19 relief,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “Instead of providing aid to Stonecrest’s deserving citizens, Lary allegedly diverted funds for his own use, including to pay off his taxes and the mortgage on his lakefront home.”

“It is very troubling when an elected official, someone sworn to protect the community they serve, violates that oath by stealing relief funds intended to aid their community during a global pandemic,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The allegations against Lary and Boone indicate an abuse of a position of trust and blatant disrespect for the law, which will not be tolerated by the FBI.”

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court: In March 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act into law in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the CARES Act, the federal government distributed COVID-19 relief funds to individual Americans, federal agencies, and state and local governments, including $125 million to DeKalb County. The federal government permitted DeKalb County to further disburse these relief funds to its municipalities. In July 2020, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners voted to disburse some of the relief funds to its municipalities, including a $6.2 million grant to Stonecrest.

Stonecrest was required to spend the relief funds in accordance with the CARES Act. In general, according to the Department of the Treasury, relief funds could “only be used to cover costs that – [were] necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency . . . . and were incurred during the period that [began] on March 1, 2020, and [ended] on December 30, 2020.” Examples of eligible expenditures were medical expenses, public health expenses, and grants to small businesses to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures.

In September 2020, Jason Lary, the Mayor of Stonecrest, signed a resolution acknowledging these CARES Act requirements. The resolution also adopted a funding plan for most of Stonecrest’s relief funds. The plan provided $1 million to the Stonecrest Cares Program for mask distribution, COVID-19 education and testing, and other purposes. In practice, the Stonecrest Cares Program directed relief funds to churches and non-profit organizations in and around Stonecrest. The plan also provided $5 million to the COVID-19 CARES Act Small Business Program (“Small Business Program”).

Stonecrest did not disburse the $6 million allocated to the Stonecrest Cares Program and Small Business Program. Instead, the city contracted with Municipal Resource Partners Corporation, Inc. (“MRPC”) to provide accounting services and to disburse the relief funds as directed by Stonecrest. Before the contract was signed, Lary allegedly worked behind the scenes to assist MRPC, including by recruiting its CEO, opening its bank accounts, and ensuring that Lania Boone would be hired as MRPC’s bookkeeper.

In or about November 2020, Stonecrest published an application on its website for businesses to apply for relief funds under the Small Business Program. The application included the question, “are you willing to allocate 25% of your grant to marketing your business?” Hundreds of businesses applied for relief funds, but most of the applicants were rejected. From about November 2020, until in or about February 2021, Lania Boone signed dozens of checks on behalf of MRPC, directing millions of dollars of relief funds to individuals, businesses, churches, and non-profit organizations. Lary allegedly helped decide where the relief funds were directed.

Lary allegedly abused his position to devise and execute a scheme to steal relief funds after they were distributed by MRPC. First, Lary allegedly told churches that received relief funds under the Stonecrest Cares Program that they were required to contribute a portion of those funds for purposes identified by Lary.

For example, Lary presented a check for $150,000 in relief funds to “Church 1,” on the condition that $50,000 be given to a company called Real Estate Management Consultants, LLC (“REMC”). Lary allegedly did not tell Church 1 at this time that he actually controlled REMC. Lary allegedly falsely stated that the $50,000 would be used to assist with home repairs for people who could not afford them due to COVID-19. In reality, Lary allegedly used the money for his own purposes, including to pay off his outstanding federal, state, and local tax liabilities.

As another example, Lary presented a check for $50,000 to “Church 2.” Later, a person acting on Lary’s behalf told Church 2 to contribute $4,500 of the relief funds to REMC, purportedly for rent assistance. Lary allegedly spent the money to pay his own property expenses and his dues to the Georgia Campaign Finance Committee.

In addition, Lary and others acting on his behalf allegedly solicited relief funds from businesses that received grants under the Small Business Program. Lary and others allegedly falsely claimed that the money would be each business’s “contribution” to Stonecrest-related marketing and advertising. But Lary and others asked that these “contributions” be given not to Stonecrest, but to entities called Visit Us, Inc., and Battleground Media, LLC. Lary allegedly did not tell the businesses that he controlled these entities.

In total, businesses were allegedly defrauded out of hundreds of thousands of dollars of relief funds. The relief funds deposited into the Visit Us and Battleground Media accounts were allegedly used by Lary to benefit himself and others. For example, Lary allegedly used relief funds held by Visit Us to pay for an associate’s political advertising.

Finally, Lary allegedly conspired with Lania Boone, MRPC’s bookkeeper, to steal relief funds before they were disbursed by MRPC. In January 2021, Boone allegedly used her access to one of MRPC’s bank accounts to wire transfer approximately $108,000 of relief funds to a mortgage servicing company. Lary and Boone allegedly knew the purpose of the transfer was to pay off the mortgage on a lakefront home owned by Lary. Around the same time, Lary allegedly directed approximately $7,600 in stolen relief funds to be paid by Visit Us for Boone’s son’s college tuition and rent.

Jason Lary, 59, of Stonecrest, Georgia, and Lania Boone, 60, of Decatur, Georgia, were each arraigned on a criminal information on November 10, 2021, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Regina D. Cannon. Members of the public are reminded that each criminal information only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Trevor C. Wilmot is prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

That guy you see above on the far left is Tom McCasland. Now, in case you haven't heard, Tom has been fired from his position as the City of Houston Housing Director – but I have never been more proud of anyone than I am of Tom for stepping forward and telling his truth. I am also very proud of Bill King, for his work, City of Houston Controller Chris Brown calling out Mayor Sylvester Turner. And I can’t say enough about At-Large #3 City Council Member Michael Kubosh for his courage and willingness to always step forward and push back against what appears to be blatant corruption at Houston City Hall under Mayor Sylvester Turner’s administration. Now, according to an email I received from Bill King, "What McCasland did not tell Council was that the project Turner ordered him to fund was partially owned by Turner’s long-time, former law partner, Barry Barnes. He later told the Houston Chronicle editorial board that he did not know Barnes was a partial owner until that was reported by the Chronicle. That is a little hard to swallow because Barnes’ name appears multiple times on the project’s State application.

I have always admired the work of Bill King, a former city of Houston Mayoral contender, and columnist for the Houston Chronicle. I received the “PUBLIC POLICY DISCUSSION” you see published below from Bill King via email. I am sharing it in its entirety because I believe it will help you to better understand what’s going on at Houston City Hall.”

The Cost of Nationalizing Local Elections


Another day, another bid-rigging scandal in Houston. This one was so bad that even the City of Houston Housing Director, Tom McCasland, who has largely turned a blind eye to Turner’s blatant patronage regime, could not stomach it.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council’s Housing and Community Affairs Committee, McCasland dropped the political equivalent of an atomic bomb by directly accusing Turner of rigging a competition for Harvey relief funds earmarked to support affordable housing. You can listen to his presentation at the meeting here, beginning at about 36:00.

According to the excellent reporting by Mike Morris and Dylan McGuinness at the Houston Chronicle, Turner overruled the recommendation of McCasland’s department and ordered him to direct $15 million to a subsidized housing project in Clear Lake. They reported that the project ranked eighth of the twelve projects McCasland’s staff evaluated. The $15 million dollars will result in 88 affordable units at an average cost of $170,500 per unit. The Housing Department had recommended four other projects that would have provided 362 affordable units at a cost of $44,800 per unit.

At a press conference, Turner claimed that McCasland had not expressed concerns about the bid process to him before Tuesday’s meeting. But McCasland delivered a stack of emails and memos to the committee that showed Turner was blatantly lying and, in fact, McCasland had detailed the problems with the proposed project to Turner for months.1

What McCasland did not tell Council was that the project Turner ordered him to fund was partially owned by Turner’s long-time, former law partner, Barry Barnes. He later told the Houston Chronicle editorial board that he did not know Barnes was a partial owner until that was reported by the Chronicle. That is a little hard to swallow because Barnes’ name appears multiple times on the project’s State application.


That application also clearly discloses that Barnes’ company will be paid a $400,000 up-front development fee, even though on the application Barnes admits that he nor his company have any previous development experience (p. 270). Secretary of State records obtained by Morris and McGuinness show Barnes’ company was only formed a couple of weeks before the application for funding was submitted.

Many of you will recall that in 2018 Turner attempted to direct $6.7 million of Harvey relief money to Barnes for title work on homes to be repaired. However, that scheme largely fell apart because the City was so incompetent at distributing the funds, only a handful of deals were closed before the State took that program over.

Turner’s scheme bares an eerie resemblance to County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s recent vaccine bid-rigging scheme where her political staff overruled the recommendations of the medical experts to direct an $11 million contract to Democratic political operatives.

In both cases, these “progressives” had no qualms about taking funds earmarked to help ordinary citizens – in one case to get vaccines to underserved communities and in the other to provide affordable housing – and callously redirecting them for political and patronage purposes. The losers are ordinary Houstonians, many of whom put their trust in these two elected officials by voting for them.

For years Republicans and Democrats have voted for local candidates, claiming to share their "conservative" or "progressive" values. Frequently, their support is based on the candidates’ positions on issues like abortion, climate change, gun laws, or some other issues over which local elected officials have little power.

But as the old adage goes, “there are no Democratic or Republican potholes.” By voting for candidates that share their “values” or because of their party affiliation, partisans have enabled the corrupt and incompetent administration which has increasingly come to dominate our local governments that is undermining Houston’s quality of life.

Perhaps the Houston Chronicle editorial board’s scathing condemnation of Turner for this smelly deal marks a turning point. It certainly stands in stark contrast to their glowing endorsement of Turner in 2019, which compared charges of corruption in his administration to urban myths and lauded him for his “progressive heart.”

Perhaps in the future, we can stop nationalizing local elections and instead judge local candidates on the basis of whether they are prepared to take on the mundane work of fixing roads, protecting us from dangerous criminals, keeping people’s homes from flooding, and responsibly managing local tax dollars.

Note 1 – Hat tip to my good friend and Kingwood flood watchdog, Bob Rehak, for obtaining the copy of McCasland’s document from the State. Bob also wrote about the controversy on this blog.

AUBREY R. TAYLOR: "Now is the time when our love for America must prevail. It is incumbent upon us to elect "PUBLIC SERVANTS" who understand that they work for us. We need "ELECTED OFFICIALS" in office who love "OUR CONSTITUTION" and the ideals that our nation was founded upon by our forefathers. We must make it our collective effort to "PUT PEOPLE OVER POLITICS" and do what's best for America during this crucial moment in time."

Favoritism and Party Politics Have No Place Inside Our Harris County Courtrooms


At the end of the day, the judicial races are the most important races on the ballot. That said, who we allow to put on that black robe and occupy judicial benches (especially in Harris County, Texas) matters a great deal. Over the years, through straight-ticket voting, and folks going into the polls playing "Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe" we've allowed a few bad folks to slip through the cracks. Now, I'm not trying to play party politics in any way, shape, or form, with my words. All I'm trying to say is that nobody is perfect, but if we make it our goal to elevate people who fear God and have a backbone into positions of authority, every one of us will be afforded the opportunity to live our best life.

HOUSTON, TEXAS 77058-3039
DIRECT CONTACT: (281)788-3033