LOBSTER tail for $25.95.

Filet mignon for $39.

A combo plate of prime rib and cedar-plank salmon for $53.

That's how the Philadelphia Housing Authority's top executives used to roll under the reign of Carl Greene.

At their annual retreat in a resort near the Poconos, PHA managers gorged themselves on so much rich food - creole crab cake, chocolate fondue, cheesecake - that some attendees had to make a pharmacy run for maximum-strength antacids and Aleve.

All charged to taxpayers.

The bills for the "strategic operations planning" conferences ran as high as $50,706.34 for a five-night corporate getaway at the Woodlands Inn & Resort in Wilkes-Barre, according to documents obtained by the Daily News.

"This kind of spending shows a complete disregard for taxpayers that adds to public cynicism about government," said U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley's panel has been scrutinizing spending by public-housing agencies.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is also in the midst of an in-depth audit that will examine how PHA, under Greene, spent tax dollars.

PHA, the nation's fourth-largest public-housing agency with roughly 80,000 tenants, receives most of its budget - $371 million - from HUD. Last week, HUD took control of PHA after ousting its board of commissioners.

"This is about making sure that the money is well-spent and that there will not be any more $50,000 retreats," HUD spokesman Jereon Brown said. "We want to make that clear."

PHA's board fired Greene in September, after it learned that he had secretly settled three sexual-harassment complaints against him for $648,000.

A luxurious trap

Each year under Greene, PHA managers were chauffeured from Philadelphia to the Woodlands resort in a chartered bus that cost about $2,400 round-trip. On the ride, PHA paid for movie rentals, including "The Pursuit of Happyness," starring Will Smith as a businessman who becomes homeless.

For the October 2009 retreat, Greene wanted managers to go in style. He used PHA money to buy 20 Tumi luxury duffel bags - $796 apiece - from Nordstrom as gifts to managers to pack their clothes and toiletries.

Earlier this year, interim executive director Michael Kelly told the managers to return the bags, calling the purchases "outrageous" and "not an appropriate expenditure of PHA funds."

Once the managers arrived at the Woodlands, some felt trapped, they said.

"You were corralled into going," said a former longtime PHA manager who left in 2009 and didn't want his name printed. "You were in a very nice place, but you were captured with nowhere to go."

Several attendees described the retreats as a lot of work. During the sessions, managers were challenged to think outside the box, develop strategies and set goals designed to better serve PHA tenants.

"They were intense work sessions," said Daniel Quimby, PHA's former general manager of maintenance. "They were not fun and games. They weren't play sessions."

The daily sessions typically ran from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. PHA staffers were fed a revolving smorgasbord of food, like ducks being fattened for foie gras: gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner, with four snack breaks in between, costing thousands of dollars a day.

"With the [long] days that they were doing, they had to have a lot of food to keep them energized," said Donna Keyes, Woodlands director of sales and marketing.

The retreats were started under Greene in 2000, two years after he took over as PHA chief.

When asked by the Daily News whether the retreat expenditures were an appropriate use of PHA funds, Greene's attorney, Clifford Haines, said he didn't have enough information to comment.

After Greene's sexual-harassment scandal began to unfold last August, PHA abruptly canceled its fall 2010 retreat. Woodlands managers were sorry to lose the moneymaker.

"Absolutely, it was a loss," Keyes said. "For us, it was a very busy week for our staff, from our chefs to our bartenders to our housekeepers."

Kelly, PHA's interim executive director, said the agency will continue to hold strategic-planning meetings. Those sessions, however, will be held locally and at a much cheaper cost. Kelly said there is value in bringing senior staffers together to brainstorm and re-envision PHA's future.

"But I don't think we need to leave the city, and I don't think we need to have a high-cost, fancy retreat venue to get that accomplished," Kelly said.

The 'Trump of housing'

The Daily News reviewed expenditures for retreats from 2007 to '09. In the October 2009 retreat, 49 PHA workers stayed at the Woodlands at the daily corporate rate of $112 a room.

Some stayed for as many as five nights. The total bill for lodging: $20,421.11. The price tag for food was $26,277.75, which didn't include extras like the nearly $1,500 sushi dinner at the Woodlands' premier Shogun Japanese Restaurant.

"[Greene] was the Donald Trump of housing. He expected to be treated like a king," said the former PHA manager who attended the retreats. "He picked out the menu. He wouldn't go unless the food was good. He didn't do anything cheap. . . . It was top shelf all the way."

Between lavish food spreads, some PHA staffers made food runs, mostly for candy. At the nearby Kmart, they bought more than $100 worth of Kit Kats, Almond Joys, Reese's, Twizzlers and Snickers.

They also trekked to the Wilkes-Barre Wegmans, Walmart and CVS to expense personal items: Maybelline eye makeup, $3.97; Aveeno Daily Moisturizer, $3.39; L'eggs hosiery, $4.99; and reading glasses and an eyeglass case for $21.25, according to PHA receipts.

Then there were their medicinal needs: Pepcid Maximum, Aleve, Tylenol, Advil, Neosporin cream and eye masks. All billed to taxpayers.

Some managers told the Daily News that after dinner each night, they felt obligated to go to a bar with Greene for drinks and karaoke. They spent their own money to buy drinks for themselves - and for Greene, who had a taste for Courvoisier cognac and Grey Goose vodka.

Another former PHA staffer who requested anonymity said the Woodlands conference was like a typical "corporate retreat," with one exception: Taxpayers picked up the tab.

And that's exactly what irks Grassley and other members of Congress.

"Every dollar spent on top hotels, lobster tails and expensive suitcases should have gone to affordable housing and repairs," Grassley said.

"Now that HUD finally is paying attention, it needs to get on top of the situation and take action for as long as it takes to get tax dollars going where they belong."