Friday, October 28, 2016

Housing Voucher Program Administrator, Landlords Admit No Wrong Doing, But Agree To Cough Up $34K To Settle Section 8 Tenant-Whistleblower's False Claims Act ("Qui Tam") Lawsuit Alleging Improper Clipping For Higher Rent Than Amounts Charged To Non-Section 8 Tenants In Comparable Apartments

From a recent news release from the Yankee Institute for Public Policy:
  • Renters using Section 8 housing vouchers were allegedly charged higher rents than unassisted renters in Hartford, according to an action filed in the U.S. District Court for Connecticut.

    The action claimed that Imagineers LLC which administers Hartford’s Section 8 housing voucher program, “improperly approved” housing assistance for monthly rental payments which were higher than “comparable unassisted units.” The residential property companies which rented out the units, Alphabet LLC and Marks LLC, were also accused of violating the False Claims Act.

    The suit was filed by an unnamed individual on behalf of the government – an action known as “qui tam” and allowed under the False Claims Act.(1)
    ***
    Although none of the listed companies admitted any wrong-doing, all three settled with the complainant following investigation by the Office of Inspector General “to avoid the delay, uncertainty, inconvenience, and expense of lengthy litigation.”

    Under the settlement Imagineers paid $30,000 to the complainant and his or her attorneys, while Alphabet and Marks paid a combined $4,000. Of that settlement $4,200 was paid to the United States Government.
For the story, see Management company “improperly approved” higher rents for Section 8 housing in Hartford.

For the HUD Inspector General's press release, see The Alphabet Group, LLC, Marks Group, LLC, and Imagineers, Inc., Settled Allegations Related to Section 8 Rent Certifications.
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(1) The False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., allows a private individual, or "whistleblower," with knowledge of past or present fraud committed against the federal government to bring suit on its behalf.

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