[Hpn] Homeless Shelter Director Suspended In Wake Of Extortion Charge

William C. Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 26 Jan 2005 11:04:45 -0500


www.boston.com/


Homeless shelter director suspended in wake of extortion charge

January 26, 2005

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The director of Friends of the Homeless Inc., facing
charges of extorting free labor and materials for the construction of a
vacation home from contractors hired to work for the agency, was suspended
without pay by the group's board of directors.

The board voted 7-0 at a special session to suspended of Francis G. Keough
III, who pleaded innocent Jan. 21 in U.S. District Court to the extortion
charge as part of an ongoing citywide corruption probe.

He will be replaced Joseph F. White Jr., the agency's director of programs
and a five-term city councilor who managed the Worthington House Homeless
Shelter for the past 11 years.
Mayor Charles V. Ryan wrote to the board prior to the meeting, asking them
to take no action at this time on Keough's severance package or benefits
payment. Keough's salary was listed at $95,000 in 2003, according to board
president Maryrose Coughlin Porter.

Friends of the Homeless is a charity, but most of its nearly $1 million
annual budget -- about $700,000 -- comes from public funding.

Porter told The Republican newspaper of Springfield that Keough spoke
briefly to the board after the suspension, saying "he loved his position."
According to a one-page indictment that contains few details, Keough
extorted $29,000 from the Ware Group.

The Ware Group is run by Frank Ware Jr., an entrepreneur who owns real
estate, social service and construction companies. One of those construction
companies helped build a shelter for homeless women that Keough also
oversees.

According to a search warrant affidavit unsealed Friday, the Ware Group was
working on Keough's vacation home in Charlestown, R.I. at the same time it
was doing work for the shelter in 1998 and 1999.

Keough, a former city councilor, was convicted of tax evasion in 1993. He
did not seek re-election later that year, and was given the job running the
shelter by its directors early in 1994.

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