U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Florida
(813) 274-6000
September 2, 2015

Former Bradenton Housing Authority Executive Director Sentenced to Prison for Theft of Federal Funds

TAMPA, FL—U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew today sentenced Wenston DeSue (44, Bradenton) to 12 months and 1 day in federal prison for theft of federal funds. As part of his sentence, the Court entered a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $276,300.03, the proceeds of DeSue’s theft, and also ordered him to pay the same amount in restitution to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).

DeSue pleaded guilty on May 28, 2015.

According to court documents, from January 1, 2006, until September 19, 2013, DeSue was employed as the Executive Director of the Bradenton Housing Authority (“BHA”), a local housing authority that receives federal funds from HUD.

An investigation by the HUD—Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that between September 2010 and September 2013, DeSue was significantly absent from the BHA on a routine basis, engaged in non-BHA activities during work hours, and failed to take annual or sick leave for those absences. Despite being absent from the BHA much of the time, he accepted his regular salary. In total, DeSue stole and knowingly converted to his own use $276,300.03 from the BHA in salary, bonuses, and cash-outs of unused leave.

In addition, DeSue spent personal time with BHA Project Director, Stephany West, with whom he was romantically involved. On numerous occasions, the two spent personal time together during the workday when they should have been working or on some form of leave. West previously pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds and has a sentencing hearing set for September 9, 2015. In total, West stole and knowingly converted to her own use $104,550.75 from the BHA in salary, bonuses, and cash-outs of unused leave.

This case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Bradenton Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer L. Peresie and Simon A. Gaugush.

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