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CUOMO ANNOUNCES DEBARMENTS AGAINST TWO PEOPLE CONVICTED IN THEFT FROM DENVER HOUSING AUTHORITY
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced that a man and a woman convicted in the theft of nearly $11,000 from the Denver Housing Authority have been barred from doing business with the federal government, as part of HUD's continuing crackdown on waste, fraud and abuse.
Cuomo said HUD has taken the debarment action against Denver real estate broker John A. Bivins and against Belinda F. Olden, a former accounting clerk for the Denver Housing Authority. Bivins was debarred for three years and Olden was debarred for five years.
"Our message to anyone trying to rip off HUD is simple: don't even think about it," Cuomo said. "If you rob taxpayer dollars from the Department, we will find you, we will stop you, and we will act against you with the full force the law allows."
Olden took nine checks totaling $10,913 written by the Denver Housing Authority that were intended to go to landlords who provide low-income housing for local residents. Instead of transmitting the checks to landlords, she gave them to Bivins who deposited them in his own account. Bivins later gave half the money to Olden, who was his former employee.
The scam was discovered after landlords began complaining that they had not received their checks.
For their participation in this fraudulent activity, Bivins was convicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado for theft of government funds. He received probation for four years and was required to pay restitution of $8,554. Olden was convicted of embezzlement. She was sentenced to five years probation and required to pay restitution of $8,554.
HUD provides funds to public housing authorities around the country to help fund housing for low- and moderate-income families. Some of these federal funds are dispersed to landlords in the form of rental assistance subsidies.
Cuomo launched the "Get Tough" initiative to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in HUD programs in March 1997 in partnership with the Justice Department.
A recent report on HUD's Get Tough Initiative found that:
Content Archived: January 20, 2009