Thursday, April 27, 2017

Housing Authority Employee Gets 30 Days Jail Time For Squeezing Bribes From Low Income Tenants In Exchange For Making Them Eligible For Section 8 Rent Subsidy Benefits

In Hagatna, Guam, The Guam Daily Post reports:
  • A former employee of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority will serve 30 days in prison for receiving bribes from low-income housing assistance applicants.

    During a sentencing hearing yesterday before Judge Michael Bordallo of the Superior Court of Guam, Antonia Mayo-San Nicolas, 54, was sentenced to one year and one day imprisonment for each count of receiving a bribe. However, the judge ordered the suspension of all but 30 days of Mayo-San Nicolas' sentence.

    After serving her sentence, the former GHURA employee will be under probation for three years. She was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

    Court documents state Mayo-San Nicolas was one of three co-defendants, including Albert Buendicho and Mattos Johnson, who were named in a grand jury indictment concerning Mayo-San Nicolas' receipt of bribes while employed as a Section 8 housing specialist with GHURA.

    According to Post files, Mayo-San Nicolas was arrested and charged with accepting bribes after agents from the Office of the Inspector General of U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the FBI were informed by GHURA's Executive Director Michael Duenas that she solicited a bribe from a Section 8 recipient.

    The agents interviewed the Section 8 recipient in question, Tanya Dominguez, who stated that on Dec. 16, 2015, she went to GHURA's office in Sinajana to meet with Mayo-San Nicolas. Her landlord, Buendicho, was present and took part in the meeting between her and Mayo-San Nicolas.

    Mayo-San Nicolas offered to help Dominguez "fix" her taxes in order to continue qualifying for Section 8 assistance and charged Dominguez $350 for her services. Mayo-San Nicolas reportedly told Dominguez that she knew someone at the Department of Revenue and Taxation and could "make everything go away" if Dominguez paid Mayo-San Nicolas $300. The amount was later increased to $350. Post files state it was apparent that Dominguez believed the payment was legitimately for assistance with her taxes so that she could continue to receive Section 8 housing assistance.

    When questioned by special agents, Mayo-San Nicolas admitted that she received a bribe from Dominguez and others between 2014 and 2015.

    Buendicho initially denied having knowledge of the bribe between Mayo-San Nicolas and Dominguez. However, Post files indicate he eventually said he did witness Mayo-San Nicolas solicit payment from Dominguez. Buendicho reportedly said he knew the solicitation was wrong.

    Buendicho was also charged in the 2016 indictment, including one count of guilt established by complicity to receive bribes as a third-degree felony, crimes against the community and one count of conspiracy as a second-degree felony.

    In December 2016, Buendicho entered into an agreement with the government and pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy as a second-degree felony. The court, however, deferred acceptance of Buendicho's guilty plea for two years.

    The third co-defendant, Johnson, 50, was the last to enter into a plea agreement.

    Court documents state Johnson pleaded guilty on March 7 to giving a bribe. His plea agreement states "he shall receive a sentence of incarceration of three years of probation, with credit for time served," in addition to being ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

    Johnson was one of three Section 8 recipients or applicants who Mayo-San Nicolas received bribes from in exchange for promises to perform certification for Section 8 eligibility in her capacity as a Section 8 housing specialist. He was the only one of the three who pleaded guilty to knowingly giving Mayo-San Nicolas money.

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