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Housing official fined in scandal


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001

TAMPA -- A Tampa Housing Authority planning director was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $2,000 on Tuesday for his role in a bribery scandal that rocked the agency.

U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. sentenced Angelo DePaul on charges that he lied to authorities and concealed a crime.

Federal prosecutor Robert E. O'Neill said a prison sentence had not been expected.

"There was no evidence anywhere that he ever took any money," O'Neill said.

DePaul's troubles stem from a bribery and kickback investigation into former Housing Authority Director Audley Evans, Tampa developer C. Hayward Chapman and Tampa doctor Patrick Watson. During the trial in February, government prosecutors attempted to prove Watson and Chapman paid bribes to Evans in a conspiracy to win contracts by subverting the bidding process.

An award-winning housing chief, Evans was accused in a 92-count indictment of misappropriating $4.5-million in federal funds.

DePaul testified Evans instructed him to cover up Evans' involvement in a $382,000 contract to refurbish six fire-damaged College Hill apartments. DePaul said he did, writing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in April 1996 that Evans "had no interaction with this project."

The jurors acquitted Evans on the charges that he took cash bribes. The jurors returned guilty verdicts on 15 other counts against Evans, including conspiracy, bribery, taking illegal gratuities and making false statements to a federal agency.

The jury also convicted Chapman of paying illegal gratuities to Evans while Evans headed a non-profit corporation. The judge dismissed the charges against Watson. Evans and Chapman, who have not been sentenced, are out on bond awaiting the outcome of their appeals.

Bill Williams Jr., a contractor who won several contracts from the Housing Authority, was setenced last month to 41 months in prison.

Williams pleaded guilty last year to one count of bribery after admitting paying Evans $9,000 in December 1995 in return for Evans' influence in awarding a contract to Williams' company.

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