Sussex County, Del. - 47 ABC is moving quickly to learn more about an investigation in Delaware that involves the Sussex Technical School District and a Laurel Landscaping Firm.
On Thursday information was released by the Office of Auditor of Accounts and in a press release State Auditor Thomas Wagner suggested that both parties did a number of things wrong while moving forward with work completed at the High School.
Wagner says it started with a Bus Entrance Project, and several hotline complaints.
During a brief phone conversation Wagner pointed to an audit on construction which found that Michael Horsey of Common Sense Solutions LLC, had purchased a piece of land for about $110,000 knowing the school was interested and then sold it to Sussex Technical School District for $200,000.
Wagner says that the school did not abide by state code for land acquisition, and then turned around and awarded the project for the bus transfer area to Horsey and CSS.
The report released also suggests that Sussex Tech awarded CSS additional contracts for other construction projects by way of "piggybacking" from the existing high school bus entrance contract.
State Officials say that both parties appeared to have circumvented state bidding laws and purchase order laws.
But today when 47 ABC's Ryan Eldredge got a hold of Michael Horsey he not only caught Horsey off guard and seemingly unaware, he got a very quick and emphatic denial.
“I'm fully unaware of any report from the Auditor’s Office,” said Horsey around 4:30 pm on Thursday. “You just informed me of one and I asked you for a copy of it so I can read it. I don't know what the report is and I would love to see it before I make a comment on it….The one little section that you read to me had several inaccuracies inside that statement. I think it's totally unfair to ask me to answer something that one, I don't know nothing about and two, how could there be a report about something that no one ever reached out to me and asked me anything about it? How can you be accused of something if you aren't provided the opportunity to give the evidence on your side?”
47 ABC did provide a copy of the report to Michael Horsey.
47 ABC has also reached out to Sussex Tech and the Superintendent but has not heard back. In their response to the audit the district said they will work to ensure better practices in regards to how contracts are awarded, but they believe they did nothing wrong.
The Delaware Department of Justice did tell 47 ABC that they have received the Auditor's full report and are working with the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust to review it.
Auditor Wagner said that the findings were, “disturbing” and told 47 ABC that, “In his 29 years of service he's not sure he has ever seen anything to this extent.”
State Senators Ernesto Lopez, Gary Simpson, Brian Pettyjohn, Gerald Hocker and Bryant Richardson; and State Representatives Steve Smyk, Dave Wilson, Harvey Kenton, Ruth Briggs King, Ron Gray, Danny Short, Tim Dukes & Rich Collins have issued the following joint statement on the State Auditor of Accounts’ report on Sussex Tech.
“The report released Thursday by the State Auditor of Accounts raises some troubling questions about Sussex Tech. It calls into question how key operational and strategic decisions are being made at the school; how tax dollars are being spent; and if sufficient oversight is being exercised.
We urge the State Attorney General’s Office to investigate these findings and aggressively pursue action should any criminal wrongdoing be found.
We also want to thank the State Auditor of Accounts’ staff for their diligence and their thorough reporting in this matter.”