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Whitley grand jury returns 45 count indictment for suspended Williamsburg Housing executive

From the Times Tribune -

James Lovitt Jr.

The suspended executive director of the Williamsburg Housing Authority was handed a 45-count indictment Monday by a Whitley County grand jury.

Counts 1-34 of the indictment charge James Lovitt Jr., 52, of Williamsburg with second-degree forgery.

The indictment reads that Lovitt unlawfully signed the name of John Brown as the co-maker of a check and endorsed the name of the payee drawn on the account of a Williamsburg Housing authority check. The dates of these checks ranged from July 19, 2017 to September 25, 2019.

Counts 35, 37-40 and 42-44 of the indictment charge Lovitt with theft by deception of a value less than $500. Those counts list the value under $500 that Lovitt is accused of taking cash owned by the Williamsburg Housing Authority in return for a forged check drawn on the account of the Williamsburg Housing Authority at Community Trust Bank. The dates of these incidents range from April 12, 2019 to July 28, 2019

Count 36 and 41 charge Lovitt with theft by deception of the value greater than $500, one at $500 and the other at $1,000. The dates of these incidents are July 8, 2019 and September 25, 2019.

Count 45 of the indictment charges Lovitt with abuse of public trust on July 29, 2017 "by knowing and unlawfully using his authority at the Williamsburg Housing Authority to convert $9,493 from the Williamsburg Authority for his own personal use."

Lovitt was arrested on September 2 for second-degree forgery and abuse of public trust by Williamsburg Police Department. He was released on bond on September 9.

On August 23, Lovitt had been placed on administrative leave with pay due to an ongoing investigation by the Williamsburg Police Department that had FBI involvement.

Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said the department began investigating Lovitt about a month prior to that and his department executed a search warrant at the Williamsburg Housing Authority office with assistance from the FBI.

The FBI assisted the Williamsburg Police Department on the electronic part of it, Bird said.

Bird said the department began the investigation after receiving information in regards to some misappropriations with the finances at the Williamsburg Housing Authority.

Bird said in addition to the FBI, the department worked with the HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) Office in Louisville and the HUD Office of Inspector General out of Memphis, Tennessee.

Mayor Roddy Harrison said the Williamsburg Housing Authority Board was informed of the investigation by Bird.

Lovitt's administrative leave with pay was made effective immediately on August 23 during a special-called Housing Authority Board meeting. The administrative leave is pending a conclusive investigation and also pending the results of the investigation, the director's name will be removed from all accounts, Harrison said on August 23.

On September 11, the Williamsburg Housing Authority voted to change Lovitt's suspension to without pay. Lovitt has held the position of executive director for about six years. Lovitt had been an employee for 14 years prior to becoming the executive director, according to Housing Authority Board Chairman Johnny Brown. As executive director, Lovitt maintained the day-to-day operations of the Williamsburg Housing Authority.

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