Taylor questions government's property deal with Warrs

By David Elliott - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Congressman Gene Taylor wants some answers. The Congressman has written a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates questioning the sale of property to Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr and his father, Gene Warr. The property in question is next to what was the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

In a letter dated February 3, 2009, Congressman Gene Taylor writes, "I write to express my concerns about the acquisition and subsequent sale of real property of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) at Gulfport, Mississippi, occurring in 2003."

At the center of the inquiry are two homes sitting on more than three acres of land on the east side of the retirement home. The homes and property were purchased by Gene and Brent Warr in 2003 for $1 million. It was part of a 10.2 acre parcel of land purchased by the retirement home for $5.692 million.

Congressman Taylor has asked several questions including, "At the time that AFRH purchased the original 10.2 acres, what was the property's total appraised value, including acreage and all the structures on the property?" and "What was the appraised value of the property that the AFRH sold to the Warrs?"

According to Timothy Cox, Chief Operating Officer with the retirement home, the house at 1814 Beach Drive appraised for $473,000 while the house at 1804 Beach Drive appraised for $450,000.

Charles Abell with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense said on August 6, 2003 the AFRH accepted an offer from Brent and Gene Warr totaling $1 million for the two homes and the property.

Cox defended the property sale in a memorandum last year to the Office of Legislative Affairs that stated, "I assure you, we practiced due diligence in the sale of these properties."

Congressman Taylor has asked Secretary Gates to furnish information regarding the deal.

Congressman Taylor's letter to the Defense Secretary was written a week after Brent and Laura Warr were indicted on 16 counts alleging they committed Katrina fraud. Taylor requested Secretary Gates respond by next week.