U.S. Attorney Announces Section 8 Housing Fraud Indictments
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 28, 2010|
PORTLAND, OR—Dwight Holton, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, announced today that a federal grand jury has returned separate indictments charging Curtis James Cavitt, 37, of Newberg, Oregon, and David Lee and Crystal Foster, 41 and 33, respectively, of McMinnville, Oregon, with theft of government money by receiving Section 8 federal housing subsidies through fraud and deceit. Each defendant appeared in federal court today and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The indictment against Curtis James Cavitt charges that he failed to disclose that he had an ownership interest in the housing unit for which he received the federal housing subsidy. He is charged with one count of theft of public money. The indictment against David Lee and Crystal Foster charges that they failed to disclose income and falsely represented that a certain family member lived in their home 51% or more of the time. The Fosters are charged with two counts of theft of public money, and one count of making a false statement to a government agency.
Section 8 is a federal government program which helps low income families get decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Participants in the program are free to choose any housing that meets the program's requirements. Each month, a housing subsidy is paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the participating family, and that family pays the difference between the actual rent and the amount subsidized by Section 8. Section 8 is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by local housing authorities. Income limits for Section 8 are set by the federal government and vary depending on the number of people in a household. Program participants must re-certify each year to establish their continued eligibility.
United States Attorney Holton said, “In the current economic climate, there are long waiting lists for eligible Oregon families to receive a Section 8 rental subsidy. My office will continue to work with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who are cheating the Section 8 program so that we can make room for the truly deserving families.”
The maximum penalties for the theft of public money charge include up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for making a false statement to a federal agent is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The indictment announced today is the result of an investigation by HUD’s Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie F. Beckerman.
An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant should be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.