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Housing fraud is revealed

State probe yields 6 arrests in Augusta

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At least six people were arrested Wednesday on charges that they lied about their income to gain government housing subsidies.

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JOYCE BAKER  Richmond County jail photo
Richmond County jail photo
JOYCE BAKER

The Augusta suspects were part of a larger statewide investigation that targeted 80 people accused of fraudulently obtaining federal funding for affordable housing.

Jake Oglesby, executive director of Augusta Public Housing, said his office had provided information to the Housing and Urban Development inspector general as part of the investigation.

The Augusta-area residents arrested, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, were:

- Joyce Baker, 2400 block of Sedgefield Drive, Augusta

- Shanta Gilyard, 1000 block of Woodsedge Drive, Apt. H

- Artis Overstreet, 3600 block of Rolling Meadows Drive

- Katrina Smalley, 2500 block of Anthony Dejuan Parkway

- Tilvosiet Ryans, 3100 block of Norcom Lane

- Latonya Hunt, 3600 block of Elliott Boulevard

More arrests could be forthcoming.

Oglesby said he was notified of the pending arrests Wednesday morning.

"There are limited dollars to help people who need assistance and when people commit fraud" it takes that money away from people who need it, Oglesby said.

The Section 8 program offers subsidized rents for the elderly, disabled and destitute.

Renters in the program pay an amount equal to 30 percent of their income and the federal government covers the rest of the bill.

Wednesday's arrest warrants were aimed at people who qualified when they first entered the program but lied about their income or the number of people in their households when they re-qualified for rent subsidies, said Dennis Williams with the state Department of Community Affairs.

Most of the cases happened in 2009, but a few dated back to 2008. Richmond County had one of the highest number of people arrested, behind only Dougherty County in southwest Georgia, which had 18 arrests.

Oglesby said his participants in the Augusta program sign a release when accepting federal aid that allows all of their income information to be pooled in a central database. Anyone who violates the income terms or fails to report additional income is terminated from the program.

Not reporting extra income "is a federal offense, of course," Oglesby said.

Wednesday's sweep was a joint effort among the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which distributes federal housing funds in 149 counties, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administers the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program.

"What we did today was an impact sweep," said Herschell Harvell, special agent in charge with the HUD Office of the Inspector General. "It's to send a message to those violating the program."

Those arrested Wednesday face state charges of theft by taking or making a false statement to obtain federal funds. Federal charges also are possible, officials said.

"A person who receives benefits they are not entitled to steals taxpayer money," said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan.

The problem is not new, said Edward Jennings, HUD's southeast regional administrator.

The agency is trying to be "more aggressive" now in finding those scamming the system.

"The public trust has been violated by those individuals," Jennings said. "You cannot take advantage of your neighbor."

Properties covered under Section 8 are privately owned and people who want to use the program must find qualified properties.

About 15,000 Georgians get Section 8 housing assistance and thousands more are on waiting lists.

Officials expect some people who have been acquiring illegal money to pull out of the program because of the sweep. They're also hoping some neighbors will report those they know are using illegal subsidies. Tips can be phoned to the agency's hotline, 1-800-347-3735, or e-mailed to hotline@hudoig.gov.

Comments (82) Add comment
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Southern_Patriot
0
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Southern_Patriot 09/01/10 - 04:36 pm
0
0
who'd thunk it?

who'd thunk it?

john
886
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john 09/01/10 - 04:46 pm
0
0
people committed fraud to get

people committed fraud to get government handouts? im shocked.

fdn315
2
Points
fdn315 09/01/10 - 04:51 pm
0
0
You could see this coming

You could see this coming ever since the long lines and riots for applications last month. Atleast the government is starting to get it's act together and save itself some money...

follower
59
Points
follower 09/01/10 - 04:56 pm
0
0
fd315, I hope you mean, "the

fd315, I hope you mean, "the government is starting to get it's act together and save "OUR" money.

storiesihaveread
332
Points
storiesihaveread 09/01/10 - 05:02 pm
0
0
I am shocked this is an

I am shocked this is an outrage, these poor people had no where to go. I demand their release right away!!!

seenitB4
81048
Points
seenitB4 09/01/10 - 05:03 pm
0
0
Section 8 fraud....katrina

Section 8 fraud....katrina money fraud....medicaid fraud....let's just keep throwing that money out the window.....$$$$$$ only tax dollars...when will we ever learn.

storiesihaveread
332
Points
storiesihaveread 09/01/10 - 05:03 pm
0
0
Oh if you did not noticce the

Oh if you did not noticce the hint or scarcasm its there

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/01/10 - 05:08 pm
0
0
Excellent work! I can't wait

Excellent work! I can't wait to see the list of names and the list of excuses for them.

Fiat_Lux
14820
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/01/10 - 05:14 pm
0
0
They actually hope to recover

They actually hope to recover some of the money and return it to people who need it!

And I hope my dog will start laying eggs next week.

Fiat_Lux
14820
Points
Fiat_Lux 09/01/10 - 05:15 pm
0
0
Chillen, the names are over

Chillen, the names are over on WRDW's website.

Chillen
17
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Chillen 09/01/10 - 05:21 pm
0
0
Thanks Fiat. Here's the list

Thanks Fiat. Here's the list folks. I noticed one of them is named Katrina. This must all be Bush's fault.

Joyce Ann Baker, Shanta Gilyard, Artis Lakay Hill, Latonya Maria Hunt, Tilvosiet Melody Ryans, and Katrina Chiantia Smalley have all been booked into the Richmond County Jail.

I don't know any of them, but of course I don't hang with thieves or the entitlement crowd. Now liberals, let the excuses for what they did fly! We're waiting.

ispy4u
0
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ispy4u 09/01/10 - 05:34 pm
0
0
Hold your breath waiting on

Hold your breath waiting on those excuses. I am sure you will see the proverbial light, before you get one.

dstewartsr
20388
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dstewartsr 09/01/10 - 05:39 pm
0
0
Who do these people think

Who do these people think they are, lying and cheating so brazenly . . . Congress? ACORN?

1CowboyFan
0
Points
1CowboyFan 09/01/10 - 05:40 pm
0
0
From the list of names

From the list of names provided by by Chillen... the stolen money is probably lining the pockets of some local crack dealers.

sueboo418
36
Points
sueboo418 09/01/10 - 05:40 pm
0
0
Well I would have never

Well I would have never guessed that!!! NOT

disssman
6
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disssman 09/01/10 - 06:09 pm
0
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Commits a federal crime and

Commits a federal crime and no names and no addresses? Will not make a dent in the program. Where is the 1-800 hot line to report abuses, there is none. I am sure the people needed the money for some nail jobs, a big screen or some big wheels for their mans rust bucket. Bottom line is the law should require a sign on every section 8 front yard designating it as such. Just try to compile some information on who, what, where and when for the program and you run into a brick wall, even though the tax payer pays for it.

raul
4089
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raul 09/01/10 - 06:34 pm
0
0
Maybe a reward program for

Maybe a reward program for those turning in abusers that result in convictions. That should stir the pot.

smec29
31
Points
smec29 09/01/10 - 06:35 pm
0
0
Now go after the abusers of

Now go after the abusers of food stamps & disability. Stop giving all kids free breakfast and lunch. Stop letting government employees drive governoment owned vehicles home and to do errands.

curly123053
4189
Points
curly123053 09/01/10 - 06:41 pm
0
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Section 8 is fraud in itself

Section 8 is fraud in itself in my book! This is one of the most wasteful programs in the country, in my opinion.

J.W.
2
Points
J.W. 09/01/10 - 06:45 pm
0
0
They thought they were just

They thought they were just getting their "Obama" money!

jamie8706
0
Points
jamie8706 09/01/10 - 07:17 pm
0
0
That's a shame, but I'm not

That's a shame, but I'm not surprise though

3g
0
Points
3g 09/01/10 - 07:30 pm
0
0
Just checking what the

Just checking what the reaction would be for that inciteful headline and noticed the AC spinsters at it in par. 4 , closing quotes in the middle of a statement , hmmm .

marien
28
Points
marien 09/01/10 - 07:32 pm
0
0
Good, something needs to be

Good, something needs to be done, some people take advantage of anything, with all the lay offs and decrease in some workers pay the goverment should check out the whole welfare system.

boredinaug
97
Points
boredinaug 09/01/10 - 07:32 pm
0
0
Hahaha...this story makes my

Hahaha...this story makes my day! I am honestly surprised our government even has someone overseeing the section 8 program. Additional amazement comes with the fact they would investigate and arrest violators of the program. Who knew? I agree with some of the other comments that these programs definitely need better monitoring. I especially like dissman's ideas for the 1-800 hot line and the "big sign in the front yard" program...I would like to add the "Big Yellow Box" program for those receiving free food via EBT...I think it would be harder to put deli sandwiches and rotisserie chicken in one of those.

maggiemae
0
Points
maggiemae 09/01/10 - 07:49 pm
0
0
I read the names, ACORN

I read the names, ACORN workers (?)

maggiemae
0
Points
maggiemae 09/01/10 - 07:51 pm
0
0
These folks should not be

These folks should not be prosecuted, they were only trying to make a living. :-)

gaspringwater
3
Points
gaspringwater 09/01/10 - 07:57 pm
0
0
Authorities have arrested 54

Authorities have arrested 54 people -- including some in Augusta -- on charges of lying to get $1.1 million. My, my! How unethical can you get?

In other news; The Defense Contract Audit Agency has uncovered $10 billion in questionable Iraq contracts and a US audit found that the occupation authority lost track of reconstruction funds totaling nearly $9 billion. 19 billion swindled and has anybody been arrested yet?

cristinadh
6
Points
cristinadh 09/01/10 - 09:08 pm
0
0
this was just a luck of the

this was just a luck of the draw.. someone just noticed some discrepancies..

Dudeness
1543
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Dudeness 09/01/10 - 09:15 pm
0
0
Only 6 in Augusta? Seriously?

Only 6 in Augusta? Seriously? How long did it take to come up with these 6 names??

palmetto1007
0
Points
palmetto1007 09/01/10 - 09:19 pm
0
0
Thank you, gaspringwater, a

Thank you, gaspringwater, a breath of fresh air in this smelly place.

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