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Askins, Webb and Foster indicted
"Living the Dream" leads to court
mike foster w w sm
A federal grand jury returned indictments last week on three former officials from the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD).Former Executive Director Wendy Askins and former Assistant Director Larry Webb, who served as mayor of DeKalb County for 10 years before resigning to take the UCDD position, are charged in a 16-count indictment with six counts of theft and conversion of government property in excess of $1,000; four counts of bank fraud; three counts of money laundering; and one count of concealing a material fact, as well as conspiring to commit various other federal offenses.Askins and DeKalb County Mayor Mike Foster are charged with a single count of making a false statement regarding a matter within the jurisdiction of the United States.The charges stem from a federal investigation into the UCDD “Living the Dream” home, a project which was designed to be a haven for needy seniors.The indictment alleges that Askins, Webb and others “conspired and perpetrated a scheme to convert over $670,000 of government funds intended for the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD), the Cumberland Regional Development Corporation (CRDC), and Cumberland Area Investment Corporation (CAIC) to the use of Living the Dream, which was owned by Askins and Webb.”The Cumberland Regional Development Corporation was formed under the UCDD umbrella to help create affordable housing in the Upper Cumberland area in 1996.The CRDC was partially funded by grants from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as federal and state grants. It was overseen by a separate board of directors.The CAIC was chartered under the UCDD umbrella in 1982 to administer a federal grant program involving loans to small businesses in Upper Cumberland. The agency’s stated goal was to help expand and retain jobs in the area.The agency was also governed by a board of directors separate from the UCDD board.