By Ed Mertz

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — City officials tasked with helping low-income families find affordable housing spent at least $17,000 on questionable expenditures, according to an audit released Tuesday.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports the fallout comes amid questions of the mayor’s handling of his appointees who serve on the beleaguered Los Angeles Housing Authority (HACLA).

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City controller Wendy Greuel said her audit found expenditures by HACLA officials was out of control.

“I believe Los Angeles taxpayers were duped by housing authority officials who claimed to serve the poor but instead recklessly wasted public money to support their lavish lifestyles,” said Greuel.

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The agency is now under scrutiny from city leaders as the federal government and district attorney’s office investigate other allegations involving housing and taxpayer dollars in the city, including allegations that taxpayers footed a $1.2 million golden parachute to ousted HACLA official Rudy Montiel.

Upon the audit’s release, City Councilman Dennis Zine said it’s time for some housecleaning at the department.

“It needs to be cleaned, the department is fraught with waste, fraud and abuse, and people who violate the law need to be prosecuted and terminated from employment,” said Zine. “Very simple.”

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The findings of a CBS2 investigation earlier this month into improper spending at HACLA originally prompted Greuel to order a thorough financial audit of the department.