Friday, November 25, 2016

Ex-Housing Authority Employee Scores $129K In Whistleblower Lawsuit Alleging Employer Scored Free Money From Housing Feds, Then Failed To Use Funds For Its Intended Purpose; Defendants Admit No Wrongdoing, But Cough Up $710K To Make Allegations Go Away

In Fairfield, California, the Daily Republic reports:
  • The federal government said [] that Fairfield and its housing authority paid $680,000 to settle False Claims Act allegations that Fairfield received money to pay for two coordinator positions in a U.S. Housing and Urban Development department program and did not use the grant for that purpose.

    “Housing authorities that receive HUD grants have a duty to help families in need,” acting U.S. Attorney Talbert said in the release. “When families try to become self-sufficient by applying to programs like Fairfield’s family self-sufficiency program they deserve to be assisted at every step by dedicated and responsive professionals.”
    ***
    The release [] said the Fairfield Housing Authority administers the Section 8 housing choice voucher program, the homeownership program and the family self-sufficiency program, which provides case management for Section 8 families who desire to improve their earning potential and move toward financial independence and home ownership.

    According to court documents, the Fairfield Housing Authority – with the city’s approval – applied for and received federal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund two full-time self-sufficiency program coordinators from January 2012 through November 2014. Neither the city or its housing authority employed any full-time program coordinators during that time, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

    Court documents further allege that the city housing authority violated the False Claims Act by submitting data into HUD’s voucher management system affirming that it was spending the grant funds on two full‑time program coordinators when no such coordinators were employed, the Justice Department said.

    The allegations resolved by the settlement were first raised in a lawsuit filed against Fairfield and its housing authority under whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, the release states. The False Claims Act allows private citizens with knowledge of fraud [committed against the federal government] to bring civil actions on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery, the release said.

    Former Fairfield Housing Authority employee David Samloff, the whistleblower who brought the case, received $129,200 in the settlement. His attorney was paid $30,000 and the total amount Fairfield incurred is $710,000.

    The claims settled by the agreement are allegations only and liability in the case was not determined, the Justice Department said.

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