Saturday, August 12, 2017

Former Housing Authority Executive Director Gets 37 Months, Hubby Gets 24 Months For Roles In Bilking Over $730K In HUD Cash Intended To Further Mission To Provide Low Income Tenants With Affordable Rental Housing

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Little Rock, Arkansas):
  • [C]hief United States District Judge Brian S. Miller sentenced Rhonda Williams, 50, and her husband, Gary Williams, 59, both of Des Arc, Arkansas, to prison for their role in a scheme to steal money intended for use by the Cotton Plant Housing Authority.

    On September 2, 2016, Rhonda Williams and Gary Williams appeared before Judge Miller and pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank fraud and money laundering. Today, Judge [Brian S.] Miller sentenced Rhonda Williams to 37 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release. In the same hearing, Judge Miller sentenced Gary Williams to 24 months of federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. The Williams were jointly ordered to pay restitution of $732,177.80 and to forfeit $145,000 in cash seized from their home, the money in four bank accounts, a boat, and an SUV.

    “These defendants took public money that was meant to provide affordable housing to a low income population, and instead used it for their own personal gain,” Harris said. “This case is an example of how our office will continue working tirelessly to protect the public and eliminate this unacceptable fraud, waste, and abuse.”

    The Cotton Plant Housing Authority received its annual operating funds from HUD in the form of an annual distribution. Rhonda Williams served as the Executive Director of the Housing Authority and Gary Williams was the Housing Authority’s Maintenance Supervisor.

    From January 31, 2001 to December 31, 2014, the Williams conspired and executed a scheme where they used false and fraudulent pretenses to receive funds that were intended for use by the Housing Authority. As part of the conspiracy, the Williams lied about the reasons for the payment of Housing Authority money, and solicited and accepted bribes and kickback payments from Housing Authority contractors.

    In addition, the Williams caused the Housing Authority to pay for their personal expenses on their Housing Authority credit cards, and took Housing Authority equipment and materials and used them in the construction of their personal residence.