SEVEN ARRESTED IN SECTION 8 HOUSING SCHEME
A massive alleged scheme involving Section 8 housing vouchers has resulted in at least seven arrests, city housing and Los Angeles Police Department officials said Friday.
The alleged scheme unfolded after an individual approached a housing officer and offered bribes for Section 8 housing vouchers last December, according to Annie Kim, spokeswoman for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.
The vouchers reduce rents for low-income families, elderly and disabled persons. The city currently has about 47,000 vouchers, but the wait list is closed, making the vouchers extremely difficult to obtain.
According to LAPD Lt. Andrew Neiman, the main suspect offered $2,000 for every client the HACLA advisor would approve for the vouchers. The suspect also asked the criteria and screening process be waived on Section 8 applications.
The HACLA advisor alerted authorities, kicking off a major operation involving the LAPD Major Crimes Division Criminal Investigation, Rampart Division, Housing Authority Investigators, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Search warrants led investigators to Glendale, the West Valley, Hollywood and Northeast Los Angeles. Seven suspects were arrested and $175,000 was recovered during the arrests. The primary suspect pled guilty to bribing a public official, according to the press release.
Neiman couldn’t immediately provide the names of the suspects.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck called the crime “deplorable” in a statement.
Kim said the last time a Section 8 Housing voucher scandal erupted was in 2008, when a man was arrested for selling fake vouchers through Craigslist. The man posed as a Housing Authority employee with a fake agency badge, and met the victims at the Housing Authority office at 2500 Wilshire Blvd.
The victims paid $2,500 for the fake vouchers.
The man pleaded guilty to grand theft and was convicted to 6 years in prison in 2009.
In general, people who buy black market vouchers for Section 8 housing are “desperate,” said Kim.
“We don’t want to see more of these cases,” she added.
By Dakota Smith, Staff Writer – Daily News