Only on 10: Selectman accused of abusing affordable housing laws

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The Massachusetts inspector general released a 13-page report Friday alleging the chairman of the Rehoboth Board of Selectman lied and used his mother to buy into affordable housing at hundreds of thousands of dollars below market value.

At issue is 11 Judith Ann Circle in Rehoboth. The three-bedroom home sits in Horton Estates and is owned by Michael Costello, chairman of the town’s Board of Selectmen.

Costello bought the home in 2007 for $155,000. Other homes in the neighborhood were sold for $400,000.

How did he get such a good deal? Costello’s then 71-year-old mother was the co-buyer.

The pair also met an over-55 requirement and income restrictions because Marie Costello had little money. The Costellos won an affordable housing lottery for one of 17 homes was set aside in the development for low-income elderly.

Investigators for Inspector General Gregory Sullivan said Marie Costello never lived in the home and that she was asked by her son to pretend that she lived there.

“The plan was for her to go over to 11 Judith Ann Circle three times a week, usually from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., in order to make it look like she was living there,” Sullivan wrote in the report. “Marie Costello indicated that she would clean and do the laundry while there, but never spend the night.”

Michael Costello said his mother did live in the house.

“Yes, she did. For approximately seven months she lived there,” Costello said.

Costello said his mother’s health failed and that she moved into affordable housing in Attleboro. He said investigators threatened her.

The inspector stated to my mother, and this is a quote, the inspector said to my mother, ‘If you don’t tell me what I need to know I will have you removed from this housing that you are in right now,'” Costello said.

Costello said he did not obtain the house fraudulently and that he did not lie on any documents to get the home.

“I did not lie on any documents,” Costello said.

Ken Foley lost a recent election to Costello.

“Rehoboth needs better, believe me. They need better in there. I’m not saying that’s me. Certainly, Mr. Costello should resign immediately,” Foley said.

One of the town’s selectmen is already asking for Costello’s resignation.

No charges have been filed. The inspector general can only make recommendations. He recommended Costello give up the house or that he pay the difference in price.

Costello said he’ll fight in court if need be. 

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