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Program Abuse

The vast majority of housing assistance recipients play by the rules. They follow the law and the regulations for participation in housing programs. They do not attempt to “game the system” and they are grateful for the helpful hand up this assistance affords them.

However, there are others that do not play by the rules, and that failure leads to rather severe consequences for those involved, as these real-life examples will show:

  • Five former Miami-Dade Housing Agency (Miami-Dade) housing recipients were arrested on probable cause or charged in the Florida Circuit Court, Miami, FL, with allegedly committing grand theft. In addition, former Miami-Dade housing recipients Robinson and Phillip Dukes, Carolyn Nesmith, and Melinda Hughes were collectively sentenced to 20 years probation and 15 years supervised release and ordered to pay HUD $123,614 in restitution for their earlier guilty pleas to committing grand theft. Between 1993 and 2007, the above defendants allegedly, and Robinson and Phillip Dukes, Nesmith, and Hughes admittedly, failed to report income or accurate household composition on housing certifications and collectively obtained $253,984 in housing assistance they were not entitled to receive.
  • Six former Indianapolis Housing Agency Section 8 tenants were each charged in Marion County Court, Indianapolis, IN, with allegedly committing theft and welfare fraud. From 2005 to 2009, the above defendants allegedly failed to report income, unauthorized residents, duplicate housing assistance, or their criminal histories on housing certifications and collectively obtained more than $200,000 in housing assistance they were not entitled to receive.
  • Gwendolyn Fisk, Yousha Wheeler, Ernestina Martinez, and Mary Murillo, former Hawthorne Housing Authority (Hawthorne) Section 8 tenants and a landlord, were each charged in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Los Angeles, CA, with allegedly committing grand theft and perjury and offering or attempting to offer a false instrument for recording. In addition, former Hawthorne Section 8 tenant Cathy McClain was sentenced to 270 days incarceration and 3 years probation and ordered to perform 30 days of community service and pay Hawthorne $15,358 in restitution for her earlier guilty plea to committing grand theft. Between August 2003 and January 2010, the above defendants allegedly and McClain admittedly failed to report income, accurate household composition, or their familial relationship with their Section 8 landlord on housing or other certifications and together obtained $129,019 in housing and $16,514 in other assistance they were not entitled to receive.
  • Patricia Stroud and Herman Angel, former New York City Housing Preservation and Development (Housing Preservation) housing recipients, were collectively sentenced in U.S. District Court, Manhattan, NY, to 3 years supervised probation and 12 months supervised release, fined $7,500, and ordered to pay HUD or Housing Preservation $122,064 in restitution for their earlier guilty pleas to making false statements to HUD or committing theft of government funds. From October 2004 to May 2009, Stroud and Angel failed to report income on housing certifications and together obtained $122,064 in housing assistance they were not entitled to receive.
  • Six New York City Housing Authority (New York City) housing recipients or applicants were each charged in U.S. District, New York Supreme, or the Bronx Criminal Courts, Manhattan or the Bronx, NY, with allegedly making false statements; committing theft of government funds, grand larceny, or forgery; possession of a forged instrument; offering a false instrument for filing; or filing false business records. In addition, New York City housing recipients Sandra Jimenez and Luzveminga Leon and unauthorized housing recipient Willmer Santiago were collectively sentenced to 3 years probation and 72 months supervised release and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay HUD or New York City $55,971 in restitution for their earlier guilty pleas to committing theft of government funds. Jimenez, Leon, and Santiago admittedly and the remaining defendants allegedly failed to report income, assets, unauthorized residents, or their nonresidency and the subleasing of their subsidized units on housing certifications. Collectively, the above defendants obtained more than $112,456 in housing assistance they were not entitled to receive.
  • Sonny Vo and Denise Nguyen, a former Norwood Housing Authority Section 8 landlord and tenant, each pled guilty in U.S. District Court, Boston, MA, to committing mail fraud. From August 2001 to September 2008, Vo and Nguyen failed to report their joint residency on housing certifications and together obtained $104,496 in housing assistance they were not entitled to receive.

The lesson of these examples is clear: if you fail to play by the rules, you will be caught and the consequences will be severe.

So don’t do these things.

Play by the rules and don’t break the law.

 

Have you seen any examples of possible program abuse?