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HUD Archives: News Releases
CUOMO CONTINUES CRACKDOWN ON WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE BY BLOCKING FIVE PEOPLE FROM DOING BUSINESS WITH GOVERNMENTWASHINGTON -- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced that HUD has blocked three people from Alabama and two from California from doing business with the federal government, as part of HUD's continuing crackdown on waste, fraud and abuse.
"HUD's days as a mugging victim are over," Cuomo said. "Anyone who tries to rip off this Department will be caught and punished to the full extent the law allows."
The actions announced by Cuomo strike a financial blow against the individuals, temporarily depriving them of federal contracts. Such contracts are a major source of income for many businesses.
Here is a summary of HUD's actions:
HUD suspended three people from Alabama from doing business with the federal government until criminal charges against them are resolved. If the three are convicted of the charges, they could be debarred from doing business with the federal government for varying periods of years.
The three are: James K. Holland, executive director of Advocacy of the Homeless of Meridianville; Jill Holland, a member of the board of directors of Advocacy of the Homeless; and Kelly Harness of Huntsville, an accountant working for the American Red Cross.
HUD acted against the three because they were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama on charges of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds; making false statements; and laundering of monetary instruments.
The three allegedly conspired to divert HUD funds for personal use, causing a financial loss to the agency of $100,000. Advocacy of the Homeless receives funds through HUD's Supportive Housing and Emergency Shelter Grant programs. The Supportive Housing Program is run through an American Red Cross program called Project Happens.
Among the acts allegedly committed by the Hollands and Harness was the diversion of $24,000 from Project Happens to purchase a 1996 white Dodge Caravan for Kelly Harness. They also allegedly created false time cards to enable Jill Holland to be paid improperly for full-time work at Advocacy of the Homeless. In order to conceal their actions, the Hollands and Harness allegedly put false information in the books and records of Project Happens.
John R. Christian of Upland was suspended from doing business with the federal government.
Christian was indicted on charges of equity skimming and aiding and abetting equity skimming on July 10 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Christian owns and manages a building called Westwood I Apartments, located in Coalinga, CA, which is a multifamily rental property with a HUD-insured mortgage for moderate income and displaced families.
Christian is accused of violating his regulatory agreement with HUD by misusing and illegally authorizing the use of the rents, proceeds, income and other funds derived from the property.
Mark A. Wunch of San Diego and his construction company, Mark A. Wunch General Contractor, were debarred for three years effective November 5. While performing work on a HUD-insured property in Encinitas, CA, Wunch allegedly over-billed a HUD insured program for more than $6,000 by falsifying documents, receipts, and invoices for construction work that was never performed. The evidence against Wunch was gathered through a HUD investigation.
"This is the latest in a series of actions we're taking at HUD to stop people from abusing our programs," Cuomo said. "Waste, fraud and abuse are an ugly part of HUD's past that have no place in our present and future."
"Today's announcement reflects the coordination and teamwork that exists between HUD, the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys' offices as we work together to ensure the highest standards of integrity in HUD programs and to protect taxpayer dollars," Cuomo said.
Cuomo launched the "Get Tough" initiative to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in HUD programs in March.
Actions taken so far include: a 500 percent increase from 1996 in the number of regulatory enforcement actions taken against bad landlords; collecting over $11 million in fines and awards from bad landlords; a doubling in the number of enforcement actions taken against officials responsible for administering programs in public housing; protecting senior citizens from reverse mortgage scams; and aggressively pursuing cases of illegal housing discrimination.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009