Former Montville Housing Authority commissioner arrested – – New London and southeastern Connecticut News, Sports, Business, Entertainment, Video and Weather – The Day newspaper

2022-07-27 21:58:32 By : Ms. Amy lee

Montville — A former Housing Authority commissioner was arrested earlier this month after complaints of harassment, threats of eviction and general fear from elderly tenants were provided to police.

Michael Brower, 61, of Stonington turned himself in to Montville police on July 7 due to an active arrest warrant on a disorderly conduct charge. Brower had been a commissioner on the Montville Housing Authority from 2017 until his resignation earlier this year.

Brower and the Housing Authority are under investigation by state police for alleged misuse of funds. It was during this investigation, according to the arrest warrant affidavit obtained by The Day, that Detective Addison Saffioti was provided typed and handwritten complaints “from elderly tenants, documenting threatening behavior from Montville Housing Commissioner Michael Brower.”

Two tenants from each of two complexes the authority oversees — Independence Village Elderly Housing on Milefski Drive in Uncasville and Freedom Village Elderly Housing on Liberty Road in Oakdale — claimed they were “afraid of Brower,” threatened with eviction and/or had been harassed by Brower, according to the affidavit.

In a typed statement received by Saffioti, “Witness 1” listed bullet points of complaints the witness received from tenants over the phone and in person. The witness claimed ”Elderly women are afraid of Brower,“ the warrant affidavit reads, and were hesitant to put their complaints on paper out of fear of retaliation or threats of eviction, all according to the affidavit. It is not known if Witness 1 is a resident at either housing complex.

According to the warrant affidavit, one victim reported Brower claimed she had not paid her rent for three separate months and had threatened to evict her, though she said she put each of her checks in the secure box. Another victim said Brower yelled at her in the laundry room and now she’s afraid to do her laundry. He told another that “he could get her out of here” after she filed complaints, the affidavit says. One tenant asked to have to have their water “turned back up” after Brower turned it down. He allegedly responded with ”too bad, move out.“

Saffioti talked with three unidentified residents — Witness 2, Witness 3 and Witness 4 — of Independent Village on June 2, 2022, according to the affidavit. Two of the three had lists of complaints, while “Witness 3” stated they had no problems with Brower and did not want to get involved.

“Witness 2”, however, suspected Brower had “broken into his apartment, opened his packages and damaged his internet service.” The affidavit details that the witness noticed thefts and vandalism began after he wrote a letter complaining about Brower. He attempted to set up video surveillance cameras in response, but his “WIFI” stopped working after setting up the cameras. When the company came to repair his services, the witness said, he was told the outside box had been tampered with.

“Witness 4“ met with Saffioti and provided a sworn written statement, according to the warrant affidavit. The tenant fell on ice in December 2018 and planned to sue Housing Authority for her injuries. Brower had taken over Housing Authority and began harassing her, she claimed. She went on to describe an event where she returned home from an appointment one day and her neighbor informed her Brower had been “banging on her door so loudly that the neighbor came outside.” The witness stated that Brower asked the neighbor “where is that (expletive) (expletive)?” and called her the “C” word, according to the affidavit.

Though he left once the neighbor explained why the tenant was not answering, the witness said she purchased pepper spray “because she feared for her safety and lives alone.” She also reported of knocks on her door at night that wake her up, but no one is at the door when she answers. She suspected Brower. The witness explained she has seen Brower on “six or more occasions standing on the sidewalk starring towards her apartment,” but he does not live nearby, the affidavit said.

The witness wanted Brower arrested.

Saffioti then met with two residents from Freedom Village on June 8, 2022, the warrant affidavit says. “Witness 5“ asked to stay anonymous and when asked about Brower, she said she was afraid to speak about him. She told Saffioti that Brower had confronted her outside her vehicle about not paying rent, but she claimed she always paid on time and felt like Brower was harassing her.

“I am afraid of him,” the witness said of Brower.

“Witness 6“ was told to give up her dog when she moved in due to her lease agreement and complied. She wanted another dog and got a letter from a doctor approving an emotional support dog, but Brower started to threaten her with eviction due to lease violations after the witness got her new dog, the warrant affidavit says.

The witness said Brower “made her living environment difficult.”

Brower came to Montville police on that same day, June 8, for a scheduled interview regarding the misuse of funds investigation, the warrant affidavit says, where he provided a sworn, written statement.

Brower said he was aware of the ongoing investigation and stated he my have used the wrong Amazon account to order something and was willing to repay $50.00 to the Housing Authority, the warrant affidavit reads. The Day reported in May those misused funds totaled $3,000. The Housing Authority credit cards were in former authority commissioners Patty DiGioia-Evrett’s and Mike Brower’s names.

Brower stated he was responsible for making sure maintenance was completed while the other commissioner was responsible for financing and cashing checks. He denied ever going around telling people to get their rent in or face eviction, instead he claimed he tried to help them.

Brower stated he had several residents served with pretermination notices, the warrant affidavit continues, for lease violations. Brower said he never banged on residents’ doors, but did say he knocked on one tenant’s door (Witness 4) once. In response to accusations of standing outside a certain resident’s building on six occasions, Brower said he may have been waiting for a vendor to arrive.

Saffioti believed “probable cause exists” and requested an arrest warrant be issued.

Montville Housing Authority did not provide comment.

Brower was released on a $500 nonsurety bond and appeared in court on July 21. He is set to appear in court again on Aug. 31 in Norwich.

The Montville Housing Authority has faced its share of criticism and internal issues dating back to 2019, when former Executive Director Mary Cahoon stepped down. Former Housing Authority Commission member Sierra Davis resigned on Dec. 30, 2020, in part, because commissioners, including Brower, had overstepped into the authority’s day-to-day operations.

“Although I agree she (Cahoon) needed to go, we traded one person with control for others in control,” Davis wrote in her resignation letter at the time. She added that Brower "was supposed to be the resident liaison. Instead he has become an operations manager of both properties and more of a guard than support. When I brought this up to the board in December 2019 I was outcast.”

Brower and DiGioia-Evrett faced the music at a June 9, 2021, meeting with the Town Council. Though they were publicly confronted with complaints from tenants, the town took no action at the time.

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