Off the top tonight, Eyewitness News reporter Rachel Polansky spoke with the original auditor in the case, and others affected by the mismanaged business. She joins us live in the newsroom, Rachel, what did you learn?
A couple of years have passed since the initial investigation began, but the scars of GroWest still remain with many Utica residents. They say GroWest took advantage of them and they want to see action taken.
"I am still suffering for my money and I will suffer forever," says Senad Rosic, Utica Contractor.
Senad Rosic is an area contractor and Bosnian refugee. He says GroWest still owes him $12,600 dollars. He says the loss of this money had a tremendous impact on him.
"I feel for my family because I was not able to feed them, my son is college student and I can't provide him school and everything. After my very hard work, it is not fair," says Rosic.
And it wasn't only the workers who felt the brunt of GroWest's mismanagement. Area residents who sought grants from the non-profit housing agency share the same feelings.
"GroWest itself was very cryptic. There was something going on and you just couldn't put your finger on it. But the contractor that worked for me was owed money from other jobs that he never got paid for," says Mark Mazzo, Utica resident.
Eyewitness News spoke with the original auditor in the investigation who compiled a detailed report in 2010. And he was not surprised to hear about these victims.
"Instead of restoring abandoned houses and helping homeowners repair their homes, GroWest took advantage of the poor and elderly, squandering millions of dollars in grant money along the way, all while Utica continued to commend GroWest for the great work they were doing across the city," says Leon Hayduchok, auditor hired by GroWest in 2010.
But some say these crimes are bigger than GroWest. Hayduchok says these crimes have been committed against both the residents and the city of Utica.
"To a certain degree, it has very little to do with GroWest because this is an epidemic of Utica's culture with the lack of pride done in the work and corruption in the city," says Hayduchok.
People want answers - Common Council members Frank Vescera and Jim Zecca called out city and state government officials for not following through with the GroWest investigation. They think the victims of GroWest deserve to know what happened to their money.
"The definitive way i think people would feel comfortable if the state attorney general's office and the state controller's office brings closure to this by coming in and doing an independent investigation, but we need closure," says Frank Vescera, Council Member D-1.
"I know what it is for me. I'm nobody's son, i am a refugee, i came from somewhere and i was a very easy target for everybody," says Rosic.
Council members Frank Vescera and Jim Zecca will be presenting their resolution tonight at the Common Council meeting. But for now, they say all we can do is wait and hope that justice will be served.