Thousands In Section 8 Benefits Swindled
A Queens Village woman has been charged with illegally obtaining over $120,000 in Section 8 benefits over an eightyear period for an apartment in Brooklyn in which she did not reside, the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) announced.
Joanne Simmons, 50, was charged last Wednesday, Apr. 25, with theft of services and false statements in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Upon conviction, these offenses are punishable by up to five to ten years in prison.
“Fraudsters continue to create new ways to profit illegally from public housing benefits and apartments,” said DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn. “But DOI investigators are just as innovative, meticulously tracking down the facts and exposing the scams.”
According to the criminal complaint, Simmons allegedly was a Section 8 recipient for an apartment in Brooklyn and paid only about $72 for her share of the rent. She allegedly signed affidavits of income annually which falsely claimed that the apartment was her principal place of residence.
The investigation reportedly found that Simmons actually resided in a home in Queens Village, as indicated by her driver’s license, voting registration record at the city Board of Elections and a bankruptcy filing.
Authorities said the investigation also found that Simmons allegedly visited the Section 8 apartment in Brooklyn to pay rent. As a result of her alleged misrepresentations, the DOI noted, she illegally obtained $123,029 in public funds between 2004 and 2012.
Hearn thanked U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John B. Rhea for their assistance and cooperation in the investigation, which was conducted by the DOI’s Office of Inspector General for NYCHA.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Damian Williams of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is prosecuting the case.
It was noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.