Saturday, October 08, 2016

Eight Co-Conspirators In Real Estate Development Scheme Cop Guilty Pleas To Stealing $36 Million In Federal Housing Subsidies For Miami-Dade Affordable Housing Projects By Inflating Construction Costs, Pocketing Kickbacks

In Miami, Florida, The Real Deal (South Florida) reports;
  • A former CEO of Carlisle Development Group pleaded guilty to participating in a $36 million affordable housing fraud scheme.

    Lloyd Boggio joins former Carlisle CEO Matthew Greer and six others to plead guilty in the scheme. By inflating construction costs and receiving kickbacks, the group stole about $36 million in federal housing subsidies for affordable housing projects in Miami-Dade – 14 in all, and 13 in Brownsville, Little Haiti and Overtown between 2007 and 2012, the Miami Herald reported.

    Boggio’s case will not come before federal court next week, but he will have to forfeit $2 million in frozen bank accounts, a multimillion-dollar Coconut Grove home, and an additional $7.1 million as part of his plea deal, according to the Herald.

    Property records show Boggio and his wife own the nearly 9,000-square-foot home near the water in the Grove. They paid $1.4 million for it in 2003. The house, at 3316 Devon Court, was listed for sale for $12 million in August, according to

    The six others are: Michael Runyan, CEO of BJ&K Construction; Gonzalo DeRamon, co-founder of Biscayne Housing Group; Michael Cox, co-founder of BHG; Rene Sierra, founder of Siltek Affordable Housing LLC; and Arturo Hevia, founder of Design Management and Builders Construction, the South Florida Business Journal said.

    Throughout the investigation, the federal government has collected more than $20 million.
Source: Former Carlisle CEO pleads guilty to $36M affordable housing fraud scheme (14 affordable housing projects in Miami-Dade were involved).

NYC Feds Pinch Brooklyn Landlord, Wife & Four Others For Hiding Their Assets, Lying About Their Income To Qualify For Section 8 Rent Subsidies, Food Stamps, Medicaid

In Brooklyn, New York, DNAInfo (New York) reports:
  • Three Brooklyn couples, including a landlord with properties all over the borough, were arrested [] on charges of defrauding the government of $1.3 million worth of benefits.

    Shlomo Kubitshuk, 38, and his wife Rachel, 39, Naftali, 40, and Hinda Englander, 41, and Leib, 39, and Devorah Teitelbaum, 36, were accused of lying about their income to the federal government as far back as 2001 in order to collect thousands of dollars worth of food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers and Medicaid.

    “For over a decade, this ring of six defendants allegedly lied to city and federal officials about their financial status in order to obtain benefits that were meant for the needy," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

    The six were slapped with a multiple counts of conspiracy to steal government funds and theft of government funds, which carry a five and ten year maximum sentence respectively, court documents show.

    In two separate complaints [here and here], prosecutors said the six benefited from $457,000 in Section 8 vouchers to pay for NYCHA apartments, $130,000 in food stamps and $733,000 in Medicaid payouts.

    "At a time when affordable housing is scarce and there is a waiting list for Section 8 vouchers, it is reprehensible that some New Yorkers went without so that these defendants could have still more,” said Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters.

    Shlomo Kubitshuk owns multiple properties across Brooklyn, according to prosecutors, including 56 Grattan, 98 Grattan St. and 177 Montrose in East Williamsburg, 327 Melrose St., 318 Melrose St. and 1436 Greene St. in Bushwick and 1144 Bergen St. in Prospect Heights.

    The state had records of Kubitshuk taking in $560,000 in rental income in 2013, and in multiple applications for mortgages he said his assets were worth more than $2 million, prosecutors said.

    His wife said she took in $300,000 in annual income through another LLC company on a 2013 credit card application, according to the complaint.

    Despite that, the pair claimed only $13,409 a year in combined income for around a decade in order to qualify for federal subsidies, federal prosecutors charge.

Landlords Face Criminal Charges For Building Code Violations After Inspection Reveals That 92 2-Bedroom Apartments Were Allegedly Chopped Up Into 4-Bedroom Units, Leading To Some 400 Tenants Getting Temporarily Booted From Premises

In Boulder, Colorado, the Daily Camera reports:
  • Boulder officials charged the owners of Sterling University Peaks apartments on Monday with 184 counts of violating the city's building code for illegally subdividing rooms within the complex.

    The decision to prosecute the apartments' owners comes a month after some 400 tenants — mostly University of Colorado students — were temporarily evicted when a city inspector concluded the code violations made the units unsafe.

    The city is accusing the owners of installing movable bookshelves to illegally subdivide 92 two-bedroom apartments into four-bedroom spaces [...].

    Boulder issued summonses to the property's owners — Crack Shot LLC, White Fox LLC, Marletta Properties Two Holdings LLC and Sterling University Peaks LLC — according to a news release. Matt Johnke, described by the city as the owners' representative, also received a summons.

    Each owner was charged with 184 counts of violating the building code — two counts for each of the 92 units the city says the owners illegally modified. Those counts each carry a $1,000 recommended fine, which city officials said means each owner could be fined a total of $184,000.

    They have been summoned to appear in Boulder Municipal Court on Oct. 11.
    Ed Byrne, an attorney representing the owners of the complex, said he received summonses for all five defendants around 3 p.m. Monday. He called the charges "quite serious."

    Byrne said he did not expect his clients to pay the fines, which added together total $920,000. He said his clients will appear in court to explain their side of the story.

    "Under all the circumstances, we do not believe this was a criminal matter," Byrne said. "It was a difference of opinion on code provisions that are susceptible to other interpretations, and we expect to have our day in court." [...] Byrne said he met with city officials to explain the circumstances of the subdivided rooms, adding that he would have preferred to have resolved the matter "outside of the criminal court process."
For more, see Owners of Boulder's Sterling University Peaks cited for illegally subdividing rooms (Each owner facing 184 counts, which could result in $184,000 in fines).

Cops Bag Landlord For Allegedly Forging Health Inspection Occupancy Permits Needed Prior To Renting Apartments; Tip From Local Non-Profit Social Services Agency Triggers Probe

In Lawrence, Massachusetts, the Eagle-Tribune reports:
  • City officials have accused a landlord who owns several properties in Lawrence of forging occupancy permits.

    Edward Bonaccorsi forged the name of Health Code Inspector Raul Batistine on an occupancy permit, according to Mayor Daniel Rivera, who has pledged that the landlord will be prosecuted.

    Bonaccorsi could not be reached for comment [].

    The investigation began July 28, when Liz Rourke, intake coordinator for Community Teamwork Inc.,(1) discovered an occupancy permit that appeared to have a fake signature, according to Inspectional Services Director Pat Ruiz. Rourke reported this to Batistine, Ruiz said.

    As soon as the Inspectional Services Department viewed a copy of the permit, it was obvious the signature on it was not Batistine's, Ruiz said.

    "We will not tolerate slumlords in this community," Rivera said. "I want to make it clear that the days of illegal business arrangements and slumlords trying to take advantage of the city and its residents are over. They will pay for their actions and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

    City officials have found at least seven occupancy permits forged by Bonaccorsi, Rivera said. The City Attorney's Office and the Inspectional Services and Police departments are continuing the investigation, the mayor said.
For more, see Occupancy permits Landlord accuse of forgery ('We will not tolerate slumlords,' mayor says).
(1) Community Teamwork, based in Lowell, Massachusetts, is a nonprofit agency that helps people with modest incomes obtain housing.

Official Who Heads County Department That Doles Out Emergency Financial Assistance For Rent/Mortgage Payments, Other Housing Expenses Gets 12 Years For Fleecing Over $200K From Program

In El Paso, Texas, the El Paso Times reports:
  • A former director of the El Paso County General Assistance program pleaded guilty [] to felony theft of over $200,000 and misapplication of fiduciary property, according to county court documents.

    Antonio Natera, 65, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in the 346th District Court, with Judge Angie Juarez Barill presiding.
    The county's General Assistance program helps residents with emergency rent or mortgage payments, emergency utility assistance and food vouchers for families facing loss of income. The program also helps with funeral and burial needs through the pauper burial program. The program is income-based, and residents must demonstrate an emergency and need for assistance.

Friday, October 07, 2016

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: HOA Informs Longtime Homeowner She Was No Longer Required To Pay Periodic Maintenance Fees Because Her Property Was Excluded From Original Condo Declaration; Homeowner Demands, Sues For & Wins Refund For 12 Years Of Past Payments

From a client alert from the law firm Womble Carlyle:
  • Discovering the origin of the aphorism that "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" is difficult, but understanding its meaning is instantaneous. When doing a good act, do not expect a reward. In fact, the "reward" may be a punishment.

    In the case of Sanchez v. Cobblestone Homeowners Ass'n of Clayton, Inc. 2016WL4598554 (September 6, 2016), the defendant Cobblestone HOA (HOA) informed plaintiff that her property was not included in the HOA declaration. Accordingly, she was not required to pay association fees and she was not entitled to use of the amenities owned by the HOA, such as a pool and tennis courts. The HOA offered to incorporate plaintiff's property into the declaration so she could continue to pay dues and have access to the HOA amenities.

    The plaintiff declined the HOA's offer and requested a refund of the dues she had paid for the last 12 years.(1) A divided North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's judgment that plaintiff was entitled to a refund. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
For the rest of the story, see No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
(1) According to the court ruling, the amount of the requested refund for prior years' dues was $4,000.

Thief Burglarizes Apartment Complex's Rent Remittance Drop Box, Pilfering, Altering & Cashing At Least Five Tenants' Money Orders; All Five Now Face The Boot For Refusing Landlord's Demand To Pay Again

In Moore, Oklahoma, KWTV-TV Channel 9 reports:
  • Cameron Ward is packing up. Soon he’ll be homeless because he says he paid his rent once for September and can’t afford to pay the same rent twice.

    Here’s what happened. Ward and at least four other tenants at the Springs of Moore Apartments in Moore say they put their rent money orders in a drop box, like the complex told them to do. But according to Moore police, someone broke into the box, stole the checks, altered them and cashed them.

    Ward has copies of the forged returned money order. Still, the complex is threatening to kick him out if he doesn’t pay again.

    "Unfortunately our money orders were cashed, so there's no regaining that money. And it's gone,” Ward said. “I’m working two jobs. I can't afford to pay another $550 this month."

    Elizabeth Larios is in the same boat. She was so leery of the drop box she videotaped herself depositing her rent. But she says the manager at Springs of Moore says that’s not enough proof that she actually paid and she’ll have to pay again.

    "So I even have the stub and the receipt of the money order that I used to pay the rent and so this is proof that I paid. So I took it to her and she said if it's been cashed then you're going to have to pay again," Larios said.

    Tenants say the checks were stolen while they were in the possession of the apartment complex, so they shouldn’t be held responsible. Attorney David Slane agrees.

    "They need to take an honest look at what really happened,” Slane said, referring to the apartment management. “You had a burglary. Number one, you know. Number two there's police reports, you know that. Number three this is how your residents, sometimes for years have been paying their rent. You know that. You got proof that these people have paid. You know that. At what point are you going to stop pretending like they didn't pay the rent like you said they could and give them credit?"

    A woman in the apartment office refused to comment, and the owners of the complex did not respond to our request for a comment.

    Ward says he doesn’t want to fight with the apartment complex, but he can’t afford to pay rent twice when he did exactly what apartment management told him to do.

    "I’d like to stay,” Ward said. “It's not a perfect place, but it's home."

Replacement Of Failing Elevator In 5-Story Apartment House To Force Building Full Of Elderly People To Struggle Up & Down Stairs For Next Two Months

In Stoneham, Massachusetts, WFXT-TV Channel 25 reports:
  • The elevator at 100 Park Terrace Condominiums is out of order until the end of November, leaving a building full of elderly residents struggling to live their lives.

    The Stoneham building's elevator is being replaced, meaning the only elevator taking residents up and down five floors is gone and their only solution is the stairs.

    "What concerns me is some of the tenants here who are in worse physical condition than myself," Kathy, a 75-year-old resident said.

    One of the younger residents of the building passed his cell phone number around in case anyone needs help getting up and down the stairs in case of an emergency. But also for some everyday help.

    “I gave them my phone number and said if they have groceries or trash, anything coming in or out, call me, and I’ll bring it up or bring it down,” fourth floor resident Adam Cravo said.

    Cravo said the building management did let residents know it would be out, but didn't make any provisions for anyone in need.

    “I know there are several people in the building, well fourth and fifth floor, that are not here right now. They’re staying with other people. I know they’re not here," Kathy said.

    When it comes to everyday tasks, it's a major problem for most of them. In fact, Kathy told FOX25 she bought three months’ worth of groceries because she can't get them up and down the stairs.

    Stoneham Fire Chief Matt Grafton said no one told the fire department or dispatch to let emergency personnel know there was an elevator out. He said, typically, buildings will call to let them know. But he has since called the building manager to straighten it out.

    FOX25 contacted the property managers, who said they considered installing a chairlift, but it was too expensive and wouldn't have passed code. They said residents were given adequate notice they would be losing their elevator.

    Officials with the Mass. Office of Disability say the tenants are protected under fair housing laws and they can ask for reasonable accommodations.(1)
Source: Elevator repairs leave elderly Stoneham residents in the lurch.
(1) Could a fair housing lawsuit be in the landlord/property manager's future?

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Ex-Accounting Assistant For Miami-Area Condo Association Gets Bagged By Newly-Created Special Police Unit On Grand Theft Charge For Allegedly Filching $148K In HOA Maintenance Fees

In Miami-Dade County, Florida The Real Deal (South Florida) reports:
  • Miami-Dade police officers arrested a former accounting assistant accused of stealing nearly $150,000 from a condo association in Kendall.

    Police charged Leslie Navarro with first-degree grand theft and organized crime to defraud more than $50,000 after they say she stole $148,000 from a Hammocks condo association in less than a year, according to the Miami Herald.

    In late 2014, Navarro created a company called Hammocks Community Association Properties LLC, police told the newspaper. The real company that manages the Kendall residential community is called Hammocks Community Association Incorporated. She then opened a bank account in her company’s name and deposited maintenance payments from condo owners, which Navarro then allegedly used on shopping sprees at department stores, supermarkets and toy stores, according to the Herald.
Source: Miami-Dade cracks down on condo association fraud (Former accounting assistant is accused of stealing maintenance fees from local association).

For the underlying story, see Miami Herald: Miami-Dade launches first blow in fight against condominium fraud:
  • [L]eslie Navarro, accused of stealing $148,000 from the Hammocks proprietors’ association, a popular residential area in Kendall, was arrested [] by a newly created special police unit [to fight condominium fraud].

Manhattan DA Pinches NYC Woman In Alleged Harlem Brownstone Rent Skimming Racket; Accused Of Taking Over Control Of Property She Didn't Own After Owner's Death, Then Pocketed Nearly $194K In Rent From Tenants While Stiffing Mortgage Lenders Out Of Monthly House Payments

In New York City, The Real Deal (NYC) reports:
  • A property manager who unsuccessfully ran for City Council three years ago was indicted [] for allegedly masterminding a housing fraud scheme.

    Cheryl “Shelley” Keeling, 65, of Riverdale, allegedly earned $5,000 a month in rent from tenants at a Harlem brownstone that she didn’t own, the District Attorney’s office claims. Keeling was indicted on charges that she unlawfully collected close to $194,000 in rent between 2011 and 2014 and for failing to pay taxes on that income, among other charges.

    According to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Keeling sold the Harlem brownstone in 2007 and the new owner took two mortgages out on the property, including one with a principal balance of $1.5 million. The new owner then defaulted on the mortgage. When the new owner died suddenly in 2011, Keeling pretended to be the building’s manager, collecting the rent that should have gone to the property’s lenders, Bank of America and Ocwen Loan Services, the district attorney’s office claims.
Source: Ex-City Council candidate indicted on housing fraud charges (Cheryl Keeling collected nearly $200K in rent on a Harlem brownstone she didn't own: DA).

For the Manhattan District Attorney press release, see DA Vance: Cheryl Keeling Indicted for Stealing Thousands of Dollars Through Unlawful Harlem Brownstone Rental.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Underwater Landlord Gets 11 Months Prison Time For Serially Filing Fraudulent Bankruptcy Paperwork To Stall Foreclosures While Milking Rental Properties For At Least $150K In Rent-Skimming Racket

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Las Vegas, Nevada):
  • A former Nevada realtor who owned at least 12 rental properties in Nevada and Texas and filed multiple bankruptcy petitions to avoid paying the mortgages, has been sentenced to 11 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and restitution of $83,000, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada.

    Barbara Jean Dennis, 60, of Las Vegas, was sentenced on Tuesday, Sept. 20, by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson. Judge Dawson also entered an order restricting Dennis from engaging in real estate business during the period she is on supervised release.
    Dennis pleaded guilty in February to bankruptcy fraud, admitting that she used the automatic stay provision in bankruptcy proceedings to avoid paying the mortgages, while at the same time, collecting rent from her tenants.

    Dennis filed three bankruptcy petitions in the District of Nevada and two in the Southern District of Texas between August 2009 and November 2010. The filing of the bankruptcy petitions caused the bankruptcy court to issue an automatic stay, which prevented the mortgage lenders from filing foreclosure proceedings on her properties during the pendency of the bankruptcy proceedings.

    Dennis also delayed the bankruptcy cases by failing to appear at hearings and meetings, failing to submit supporting financial documents and other paperwork to the Court, and failing to disclose prior bankruptcy cases. In one case, Dennis filed the bankruptcy petition under a false name and failed to disclose the other petitions and the names under which they had been filed.

    Over the course of the fraud scheme, from Aug. 31, 2009, through Dec. 17, 2010, Dennis received at least $150,000, but not more than $250,000 in rental income.

Feds Pinch Central Florida Real Estate Agent For Allegedly Pocketing Fees For Filing Fraudulent Bankruptcy Court Paperwork To Stall Foreclosures On Behalf Of At Least 30 Homeowners

In Orange County, Florida, WFTV-TV Channel 9 reports:
  • A real estate agent is facing charges after federal prosecutors said he devised a short sale fraud scheme.

    The alleged scheme involved assisting homeowners who were facing foreclosure by helping them file fraudulent bankruptcy paperwork.

    Prosecutors believe Reafael Sanchez was trying to stop the foreclosures temporarily, long enough to try to make a short sale on the distressed property and potentially receive a commission. Once they filed bankruptcy paperwork in federal court, it automatically stopped the proceedings at the Orange County courthouse.

    On his real estate bio, Sanchez describes himself as a "short sales specialist."

    Federal prosecutors said that over a two-year period, prosecutors believe Sanchez collected money and assisted at least 30 homeowners facing foreclosure in filing fraudulent bankruptcies.

    "(He filed) completely fraudulent bankruptcies all of which were dismissed in 14 or 15 days," said bankruptcy attorney Scott Shuker. Shuker said it's a problem that's clogged up the court system.

    A "notice of foreclosure sale" was posted showing a home would be sold April 7, 2014, but three days before the sale, a bankruptcy was filed. "A week or two before they're ready to foreclose, this happens. The bankruptcy is filed. That means the sale stops automatically," said Shuker.

    While the foreclosure sales were put on hold, it gave Sanchez a chance to try to sell the distressed homes and make a commission.

    Shuker said often the homeowners can't sell and end up losing their home anyway. “Now they have the bankruptcy on their record in addition to the foreclosure and they've spent money that produced absolutely no benefit," Shuker said.

    Three of Sanchez’s clients said they lost their homes anyway, but they said they didn't blame him.

    Sanchez agreed to make a plea in the case, but a date hasn't been set. He faces up to five years in prison.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Lawsuit: Ex-Mob Informant Bolts Witness Protection Program, Befriends Frail, Elderly Widow, Dupes Her Into Signing Away Real Estate Portfolio Worth Ten$ Of Million$

In New York City, DNAInfo (NYC) reports:
  • Under golden arches, as the smell of Big Macs wafted through the air, Lee Power signed away more than $100 million to a man with two identities whom everyone called "The General."

    Power, a toothless, disheveled widow who was often mistaken for a bag lady despite her enormous wealth, had known The General — or Alben Sagan, his legal name — for less than two years. But in that short time, he had become her ever-present companion.

    The two first met in late 2008 when Sagan mysteriously arrived at Power’s door looking for an apartment in one of the half-dozen residential buildings she owned on the Upper West Side.

    Soon he was being paid to drive her around. Then he started overseeing the maintenance of her properties. A year later, he was living rent free in a one-bedroom unit in one of her buildings located steps from Central Park.

    And then Power sat with three of Sagan’s friends in her favorite booth in the McDonald’s at 71st Street and Broadway at 10:30 p.m. on June 18, 2010.

    She signed a will that left all but a small sliver of her riches to Sagan. She also signed a document that gave him power of attorney over her.

    Sagan’s friends signed as witnesses. As the ink dried, Sagan appeared, and they all congratulated him.

    Over the next few years, Sagan would become the president of her real estate companies, Powers Associates and 15 West Realty LLC, negotiating multi-million-dollar sales of her properties.

    Meanwhile, Power would spend the last year of her life in and out of hospitals and finally in a nursing home until she died at 82 on Jan. 7, 2014.

    After her death, Power’s family was shocked to learn that a man they barely knew had been left 90 percent of her fortune.

    Power had no children, but she had come from a large family scattered overseas, and only one niece was named a beneficiary in the will.

    Christine Corney, Power’s older sister who lived in England, suspected foul play and wrote a letter to the Manhattan Surrogate’s Court objecting to the will. She stated that her sister never once mentioned Sagan’s name in their many phone conversations.

    “As sisters we were very close and I knew first hand that she didn’t trust men, and never has!” Corney wrote. “It seems that my sister’s greatest fear was realised in the last few years of her life.”
    Lawyers for a one of Power’s nieces accuse Sagan of preying on an extremely rich woman suffering from dementia in order to gain control of her real estate portfolio, which is worth, they estimate, somewhere between $80 and $120 million. They also point to emails that claim she lived in fear of him.

    “Unfortunately, the facts of this case are not so uncommon. You have someone who was elderly, alone and vulnerable,” said Kimberly Schechter, the attorney who represents Power’s niece Janet Braker in the case over the validity of the will. Braker’s mother, Christine Corney, died shortly after writing the letter objecting to the will.

    Sagan said Power was of sound mind when she wrote her will and remained so for years after. Several tenants also said that Sagan acted as a lifeline to a woman who, without his care, would have died years earlier.

Massachusetts Homeowner Gets Two Years For Serially Forging, Recording Lien Satisfactions To Fraudulently Obtain Five Mortgages From Different Banks Secured By Her Residence Over Four Year Period; Pocketed $2.1 Million In Loan Refinancing Proceeds In The Process

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Boston, Massachusetts):
  • A Hingham woman was sentenced [] in U.S. District Court in Boston for defrauding mortgage companies in connection with multiple mortgages she obtained on a single residence.

    Denise Bruce, 56, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to two years in prison, five years of supervised release and restitution of $2,810,497. In May 2016, Bruce pleaded guilty to five counts of bank fraud.

    Between 2004 and 2008, Bruce fraudulently obtained five mortgage loans from different banks in amounts ranging from $325,000 to $487,500 on her Hingham property by submitting false information regarding her employment history, income, assets, and debt.

    Bruce also filed fraudulent discharges of mortgages with the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds to create the appearance that earlier loans had been paid in full, when in fact, none of the loans had been paid. In total, Bruce obtained $2,129,000 in proceeds from her fraudulent loans.

Longtime Social Club President Charged With Secretly Taking Out Mortgages Secured By Club Property, Pocketing Some Of The Proceeds; Probe Triggered When Unpaid Lender Published Foreclosure Notice Announcing Auction Of Premises

In Beverly, Massachusetts, The Salem News reports:
  • The former police officer and longtime president and treasurer of Beverly's Franco-American Club loudly pleaded not guilty to criminal larceny and fraud charges during his arraignment Monday in Salem Superior Court.

    And outside court, William "Bill" Gates told a reporter, "I am innocent of everything."

    Gates, who was accompanied to court by his son, remains free on personal recognizance in the case; prosecutors did not request bail for the former officer.

    Gates was indicted late last month on 14 counts, charging him with felony larceny, larceny by false pretense, and fraudulent use of corporate credit. Prosecutors allege he secretly took out a series of mortgages against the club's Park Street property, without the authorization of the club's board.

    The mortgages were discovered when one lender, Middlesex Loans LLC, placed a legal advertisement in The Salem News last January, announcing a foreclosure auction of the club.

    That's how club members learned Gates had allegedly taken out a $300,000 mortgage, at a 15 percent interest rate, against the club, and that he used some of the proceeds to pay off an earlier, $130,000 mortgage from Century Bank. Prosecutors allege he'd also sought another $300,000 mortgage from Yellowstone Capital.

    Some of the proceeds from those mortgages were used to pay taxes and other club obligations, including an earlier mortgage, but prosecutors claim Gates took at least $22,500 for his own use.

    He's accused in a separate civil lawsuit, brought on behalf of the club's board, of taking more than that amount, an estimated $60,000.
For more, see Gates: 'I am innocent of everything' (Social club president, former police officer, pleads not guilty to criminal charges).

Monday, October 03, 2016

NY Judge Kiboshes Attorneys' Outrageous Attempt To Stiff Client Out Of $4.3 Million Proceeds From Real Estate Sale Placed In Escrow & Subsequently Stolen By Law Firm's Office Manager/Bookkeeper

In Nassau County, Long Island, the New York Law Journal reports:
  • Ruling in four cases related to the theft of client funds by an employee, a judge rejected a Nassau County law firm's "outrageous" argument that it is not obligated to repay the money.

    In a 97-page decision, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Vito DeStefano granted summary judgment for Wendy and Stephen Baron, who say the firm refuses to return $4.3 million stolen from their escrow account, on claims of unjust enrichment and conversion against the firm and its two founding partners.

    DeStefano said [] that permitting Galasso, Langione, Catterson & LoFrumento to keep funds that were stolen by former employee Anthony Galasso and used to cover up his theft from other firm accounts, would essentially require a finding that the embezzled money was "successfully laundered." Galasso, a nonlawyer who served as the firm's bookkeeper and office manager, did time for the theft.

    The judge also granted judgment to the plaintiffs on their claim of constructive trust against the holding company for a Garden City condo that the firm bought in 2005 with $360,000 of the stolen funds.

    According to the judge's ruling, in 1988, Peter Galasso and James Langione launched the law firm that eventually became Galasso, Langione, Catterson & LoFrumento.

    In 1993, Anthony Galasso, Peter Galasso's brother, got a job with the firm working as a gofer and eventually worked his way up to become the firm's office manager and bookkeeper.

    In 2002, Wendy Baron filed for divorce from Stephen Baron and Peter Galasso represented the latter.

    While the matter was pending, Stephen Baron sold a parcel of commercial property in Hicksville and deposited the $4.8 million in net proceeds from the sale into an escrow fund for which Peter Galasso served as escrow agent, though DeStefano noted that contentions by Peter Galasso and the firm as to the identity of the escrow agent are "inconsistent and have shifted significantly" through the proceedings.

    From 2004 to 2007, Anthony Galasso gradually siphoned $4.5 million from the Baron escrow account into the firm's Interest on Lawyer Account and into its operating accounts through the use of about 90 online transfers. [...] After Peter Galasso found that there was about $466,000 left in the Baron account, he reported his brother to the authorities.

    Anthony Galasso ultimately pleaded guilty in 2008 to 22 counts of grand larceny and was sentenced to two-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half years in prison and ordered to make $2 million in restitution. He was released in 2013.

    The ensuing disciplinary case against Peter Galasso drew close attention from members of the bar, given its implications for disciplinary proceedings against attorneys for wrongdoing committed by their firms' employees.

    In 2012, the Appellate Division, Second Department, suspended Peter Galasso from practice for two years, finding that he did not keep a watchful eye on the firm's bank accounts.

    With the backing of some bar groups that said Peter Galasso's punishment was unduly harsh, he appealed the suspension to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the vast majority of the charges against him, but remitted the matter to the Second Department.

    In 2013, the Second Department ruled that it was sticking with its previous order to suspend Peter Galasso for two years. He was reinstated in December (NYLJ, Dec. 24, 2015).

    Last year, the Second Department suspended Langione from practice for six months, finding that, while he also had a duty to safeguard client funds, he put down his personal funds toward purchase of the office, not funds stolen by Anthony Galasso, as Peter Galasso had (NYLJ, June 25, 2015).

    Langione was reinstated this April and both he and Peter Galasso are both back at work for the firm, now called Catterson & LoFrumento.
    As the Court of Appeals found in 2012 in Peter Galasso's disciplinary case, DeStefano said that Peter Galasso and the firm used the Baron escrow funds to their benefit and noted that the Second Department found that Peter Galasso failed to "maintain appropriate vigilance over his firm's bank accounts resulting in actual and substantial harm to his clients."
For the story, see Judge Orders Firm to Pay Back Bilked Clients.

For the court ruling, see Baron v. Galasso (if lnk expires, TRY HERE).

As Baltimore Juries Begin Handing Out Million Dollar Damage Awards To Tenants Suffering From Lead Paint Poisoning, Victims Now Face Threat Of Never Collecting A Penny As Insurer Uses Lawsuits In Campaign To Back Out Of Its Obligations & Void Landlord Liability Insurance Policies On Hundreds Of Properties

In Baltimore, Maryland, The Baltimore Sun reports:
  • Chauncey Liles Jr. was poisoned by lead paint by the time he was 2 years old. Now 18, he says he's struggled ever since.

    He has trouble concentrating. Academic concepts came quickly to other students, he says, but he always had a hard time keeping up. The lead paint chips in the rental property where Liles lived cost him valuable IQ points, his lawyer argued in a successful lawsuit against the landlord.

    "I feel like I'm different and it's not fair," Liles says.

    Now Liles, of West Baltimore, faces another challenge. The $1.3 million a jury awarded his family last [month] is in jeopardy because of a legal dispute between a London-based insurance company and Liles' former landlord.

    The case is one of two large lead poisoning judgments awarded [last] month in lawsuits filed against landlords who are insured by London-based CX Reinsurance Co., which is attempting to rescind its insurance policies with landlords of hundreds of Baltimore properties. The other — a $1.6 million judgment for an East Baltimore teen diagnosed with even higher lead levels in his youth — also is in question.

    CX Reinsurance Co. has filed 15 lawsuits in federal court over the past two years seeking to rescind the insurance policies of landlords who are accused of exposing their tenants to poisonous lead chips and dust.

    Area lawyers say the company's actions could put the cases of at least 100 families in jeopardy because smaller landlords typically don't have enough cash or assets to cover damages awarded to families in lead-poisoning lawsuits.

    The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl, a firm that represents many lead-poisoned clients, has filed a complaint with the Maryland Insurance Administration accusing the company of committing "fraud" to avoid paying potential judgments. State officials said they are continuing an "active investigation."

    The insurance company "categorically rejects the allegations," said Ed Ruberry, a lawyer for CX Reinsurance. He said the company stands by its allegations that Baltimore-area landlords fraudulently failed to disclose lead violations when purchasing insurance policies decades ago.

    CX Reinsurance said in its court filings that many of the insurance policy applications were signed by Alfred Murray Slattery, an insurance agent who pleaded guilty to fraud in 2003. He admitted he had swindled more than $1.5 million from various companies and created fake insurance policies.

    Slattery said [] there was "no fraud whatsoever" of CX Reinsurance Co. He said he believes the company is merely trying to get out of paying judgments.
    Lawyer Robert Leonard, who represents Liles, said it could be years before Liles sees a dime of the money his family is owed.

    "We told Chauncey, 'Hang in there, be patient,'" Leonard said. "We're going to fight this battle. It might take years, but we're going to put up our best fight.

    Liles' lawsuit named as a defendant landlord Stanley Sugarman. A World War II veteran and former PTA president at Northwestern High School, Sugarman, 90, said he paid for his insurance policy decades ago and is a "nervous wreck" that the insurance company will back out of paying the judgment.

    He said he believes many landlords have chosen to let their properties go vacant rather than worry about defending lead poisoning lawsuits.

    "I've tried to run a real good business for 55 years in Baltimore," he said. "All of a sudden these lead paint issues arise. It's just a mess. It's horrible. I would venture to say that thousands of vacant houses are due to lead paint. ... I never dreamed 20 years ago that I would be dealing with these problems."

Landlord Gets Hit With $1.3 Million Lawsuit After Tenants' Child Registers More Than Twice Acceptable Lead Level In Blood; Probe Reveals That Prior (& Now-Deceased) Property Owner Operated Illegal Auto-Scrapping Business On Premises Over Ten Years Ago, Leaching Hazardous Metal Into Soil; $534K Estimated Cost To Remediate Far Exceeds Home's Value

In Portland, Oregon, The Oregonian reports:
  • A young family that rented a Southeast Portland home with 280 times the acceptable level of lead in at least one hotspot in the yard have filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against their former landlord.

    Several months after 10-month-old Silver Shaheed McIntosh and her parents moved into the home in 2015, the little girl's pediatrician had her tested and learned she was unknowingly being poisoned by lead -- registering more than twice the acceptable level in her blood, according to the girl's parents.

    Craig McIntosh and Naimah Shaheed filed the lawsuit earlier this month on behalf of their daughter.

    The suit lists both the entity that owns the property and the landlord -- the McKallip Trust and trustee Daniel Butler -- as defendants, claiming they knew or should have known that there were alarming levels of lead in the soil. An investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that an illegal auto-scrapping business at the home had leached the hazardous metal into the soil. The business had been operated on the property by a previous owner -- now deceased -- until about 2005, according to the EPA.

    Butler, reached by The Oregonian/OregonLive [], said he knew of the auto-scrapping business but had no idea that lead had contaminated the soil.

    "The lead at the property came as an entire shock," Butler said, adding that he's never encountered such a problem in his 40 years of being a landlord of various properties.

    The EPA found that the lead content across the yard averaged about 2.5 times higher than the threshold for triggering an EPA-ordered cleanup. But in some spots the concentrations were much greater: The sample with the highest amount contained 112,000 parts per million. That's 280 times the 400 parts per million threshold that would trigger a cleanup, according to the EPA.

    The home is in the 2800 block of Southeast 115th Avenue, and its back yard borders West Powellhurst Elementary School. Environmental regulators tested the soil at the school and at neighboring properties but found no concerning levels of lead, according to the EPA.

    As the EPA formulated plans to scrape roughly 400 tons of surface soil from the yard and replace it with clean fill, the McIntosh-Shaheed family holed themselves up inside, McIntosh told The Oregonian/OregonLive this week.

    "We were sort of imprisoned from then on," McIntosh said. "We parked in the driveway and we walked straight inside the door, and there we'd stay. We didn't go out the back door."

    McIntosh said they were renting the home for $1,200 a month, plus $200 a month paid toward a lease-to-own option.

    McIntosh said it's tough to think about how much his family was exposed before the discovery -- which only was made because their astute pediatrician wanted the girl's blood tested after her weight and height appeared to be stagnating, he said.

    "Silver was out there playing in the dirt, and I was digging and roto-tilling," McIntosh said. "She was out there just doing her thing. Being a kid."

    The lead level in the girl's blood in September 2015 tested at 13 micrograms per deciliter -- 5 micrograms per deciliter is the threshold for lead poisoning, according to the family's Lake Oswego attorney, Robert Le.

    Medical professionals say lead can hurt people of any age, and even small amounts of lead can be very harmful to some children, especially those younger than 6. It can affect IQ and cause a host of mental and physical problems, sometimes that don't become apparent for years.

    McIntosh said he and his wife are concerned that their now 2-year-old daughter -- who as a baby seemed advanced -- is lagging behind in her ability to speak.

    "There is so much worry," McIntosh said.

    The family temporarily moved out of the home in the spring while workers spent about three weeks hauling away the contaminated soil and constantly sprayed the area so lead dust wouldn't drift over to neighbors, according to the EPA.

    The agency estimated the costs at $534,000, and a spokeswoman said the property owner bore the expense. Butler, the landlord, however, said he doesn't know who is footing the bill for the clean-up costs -- because they were far more than the property is worth.

    McIntosh said he, his wife and his daughter permanently moved out of the house at the beginning of September, after borrowing some money from a relative to buy a new home.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Tampa Feds Pinch Pair For Alleged Interference With Interracial Couple's Housing Rights; Charge Based On Alleged Halloween Night Cross-Burning In Front Of Victims' Home

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Tampa, Florida):
  • United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the unsealing of an indictment charging William A. Dennis (55, Spring Hill) and Thomas Herris Sigler, III (45, Land O’ Lakes) with conspiracy to interfere with an interracial couple’s enjoyment of their constitutionally protected housing rights. Dennis is also charged with making false statements to federal law enforcement officers. If convicted on all counts, Dennis faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison, and Sigler faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

    According to the indictment, in 2012, Dennis and Sigler were living on Seward Drive in Port Richey. After an interracial couple moved next door to the house where Sigler was residing, the men repeatedly made racial slurs and racially derogatory statements to the African-American neighbor, which escalated to verbal and physical threats.

    On Halloween night, Dennis and Sigler attended a party at a neighbor’s house, where the they and several other Seward Drive residents conspired to burn a cross in the African-American man’s yard to intimidate him. The conspirators constructed a wooden cross and obtained a flammable liquid to pour on the cross. They then carried the cross to the victims’ front yard, leaned it against the victims’ mailbox, and lit the cross on fire.

    “Hate-motivated crimes will not be tolerated in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Bentley. “This case underscores our commitment to prosecute those who commit crimes driven by hatred or intolerance.”

Imposed By Orthodox Jewish Majority In 376-Unit NJ Condo Complex, Restrictions On Co-Ed Swimming Pool Use Now At Center Of Fair Housing Lawsuit

In Lakewood, New Jersey, the Asbury Park Press reports:
  • The summer may be winding down, but a dispute over single-sex swim hours at a local age-restricted community is just heating up.

    Earlier this summer, two homeowners at A Country Place, Marie Curto and Steve Lusardi, were each issued a $50 fine for violating the condominium association’s revised pool policy.

    Implemented in deference to the religious sensitivities of Orthodox Jewish residents, who now constitute a majority in the 376-unit complex, the policy restricts the times when men and women may swim together to two hours per day, Sunday through Friday. Jewish law prohibits mixed-gender swimming.

    Now Curto and Lusardi and his wife, Diana, have filed a lawsuit against the condominium association in state Superior Court seeking to invalidate the policy and the fines. The complaint alleges that the pool policy violates the anti-discrimination provisions of the federal Fair Housing Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

    The association’s attorney, Angela Maione Costigan of Costigan & Costigan, Moorestown, declined to comment on the litigation.

    Jose D. Roman of Powell & Roman, Old Bridge, is representing Curto and the Lusardis.

    In his brief, Roman characterized the pool policy as "the institution of religious law by a secular governing body (the Board) of a secular entity (the Association) in a secular community (A Country Place)."

    A hearing is set for Nov. 4 in Toms River.

    Majority rules

    Steve Lusardi, a 69-year-old retired postman, says access to an outdoor pool was one of the chief reasons he moved to A Country Place. The pool provides a means of physical therapy for his wife, Diana, 70, who is recovering from a pair of strokes.

    The couple’s $215 monthly maintenance fee goes in part to pay for the upkeep of the pool.

    As the demographics of the community have changed, the pool’s policy has been revised to provide 11 hours of single-sex swim time on most days. The remaining two hours that the pool is open, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., are set aside for mixed-gender swimming.

    There is open swimming all day Saturday, when swimming is forbidden by the dictates of the Jewish Sabbath.

    In a letter to Lusardi, the association’s board of directors defended the arrangement as more than fair.

    “ACP is a private association and as per counsel we are well within our rights to serve the vast majority of the community,” the letter stated. “You are inconsiderate of the majority and wish for minority rule. That is not our community.”
    The Lusardis claim they have been “harassed, intimidated and have received threats of violence within their community due to their complaints regarding the pool,” according to the complaint, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
    However the case is resolved, the Lusardis might not be around to enjoy the pool next summer. The couple listed their home for sale on Aug. 15.
For more, see Lakewood condo owners sue over single-sex pool (A group of non-Orthodox Jewish residents of A Country Place allege that limiting mixed-gender swim times is discriminatory, but the condo association's board contends it's the will of the majority).

Housing Authority Admits No Wrongdoing, But Quickly Coughs Up $180K Anyway To Settle Fair Housing Lawsuit; "Code Words" That Substitute For Overt Racial Language Were Allegedly Used In Emails In Connection With Effort To Reject Homeless Black Single Mom For Section 8 Rent Subsidy/Housing Voucher

In Hartford, Connecticut, the Hartford Courant reports:
  • Equalla Jenkins didn't see any blatant signs of racial discrimination when the Mansfield Housing Authority rejected her for a Section 8 voucher in 2014.

    All she knew was that she was living in transitional housing through a shelter, working 15 hours a week at a store in her hometown of Middletown, living from place to place with her 5-year-old son. After years on the Mansfield authority's waiting list, she had made it to the top.

    Now she had to show up at the office and fill out some forms before finally receiving a subsidy for her own apartment. It was in reach; under federal law, housing authorities can deny Section 8 subsidies only for issues such as criminal records or drugs, not income or transportation -- and Jenkins' record was clean.

    But the authority rejected her, saying she didn't show that she could get to her job at Bob's Stores in Middletown, a 50-minute drive from the authority's territory of Mansfield and four rural towns.

    She told them she had a cousin willing to drive her. And she even had a car, though it wasn't legal yet. "I was working to get the money to get it registered and insured," Jenkins said. "They just didn't care."

    Two years later, Jenkins, who is African American, has won a $180,000 settlement, ending a federal racial discrimination lawsuit filed in January against the Mansfield Housing Authority and its executive director, Rebecca Fields.

    Fields and other authority employees never referred to Jenkins' race. They didn't have to in order for the Connecticut Fair Housing Center(1) to file a credible lawsuit with Jenkins as plaintiff.

    Instead, the authority used what federal courts have come to describe as "code words" that substitute for overt racial language. Jenkins never heard or saw any of those words -- rather, they were contained in emails to the Fair Housing Center and Jenkins' case worker from a shelter in Middletown.

    In the settlement, the authority and Fields did not admit any wrongdoing or any violations of the Fair Housing Act (part of the Civil Rights Act of 1965) or other federal rules.

    But the code words were enough to bring a settlement in just over six months. That's lightning fast as federal cases go.

    For example, the authority openly discouraged "urbanites...who have not ventured far from their urban surroundings" from applying.

    Jenkins' case is not unique in Connecticut; I wrote about a similar one three years ago involving Crystal Carter, a woman with six children who sued the Winchester authority along with the Fair Housing Center and won a $350,000 settlement, of which she received $75,000. But settlements and rulings are highly unusual.

    The takeaway: First, subtle and not-so-subtle barriers are alive and well for non-white applicants in some towns. And second, it isn't necessary to show evidence of flagrant racism in order to bring a claim of racial bias under federal law.
    Under the settlement, the Mansfield authority must, among other measures, eliminate income requirements; create a fair housing outreach plan; maintain a list of applicants and reasons for rejection, by race and nationality if possible; and stop discouraging applicants.

    The authority quickly offered Jenkins a voucher after the lawsuit was filed, and waived a one-year residence requirement.

    Jenkins, who was homeless for a time after the rejection, today lives in Middletown, in a racially mixed neighborhood in an $800-a-month, two-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a three-family house. She just bought a 7-year-old Audi.

    When her second-grade son returned home on the bus on a recent afternoon, eager for a snack, she said he's done a complete turnaround, "ever since I've been able to be stable and happier, too."
For more, see 'Code Words' Lead To Big Settlement In Housing Case (In a racial bias case, Middletown woman wins $180,000 after she was denied a Section 8 voucher).
(1) The Connecticut Fair Housing Center is a non-profit fair housing organization that provides investigative and legal services to Connecticut residents who believe they have been the victims of housing discrimination. The Center also has provided education and conducted outreach on fair housing and fair lending issues throughout Connecticut.

Fair Housing Testers Ambush Another Landlord; Owner/Operator Of 300 Pittsburgh-Area Residential Apartments Accused Of Refusing To Reasonably Accommodate Tenants With Mobility Disabilities By Denying Their Requests For Assigned Parking Spaces

From the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development:
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced [] that it is charging a group of landlords in the Pittsburgh area with discriminating against prospective residents who have disabilities. HUD claims the owners and property managers of Beechwood Gardens in Pittsburgh and Southpointe Towers in West Mifflin denied housing to testers posing as prospective renters by refusing to grant them reasonable accommodations. Read HUD’s charge.
    The case came to HUD’s attention when the Fair Housing Partnership of Pittsburgh, Inc., filed a complaint alleging that A.Z. Zytnick, LLC, S & J Ventures, LP and the Allan Zytnick Trust Fund discriminated against prospective renters with disabilities. The parties own and/or manage the 144-unit Beechwood Gardens apartments in Pittsburgh and the 157-unit Southpointe Towers apartments in West Mifflin.

    HUD’s charge alleges that the owners and managers at Southpointe Towers sent residents a notice stating that there would “no longer be any assigned [parking] spaces, no exceptions, even for people with disabilities.”

    The Fair Housing Partnership of Pittsburgh(1) conducted a series of tests using testers posing as rental applicants who required designated parking spaces due to mobility disabilities. HUD alleges that respondents denied these testers requests for assigned parking at both Southpointe and Beechwood Gardens.

    HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court.
Source: HUD Charges Pittsburgh-Area Landlords With Housing Discrimination Based On Disability.
(1) The Fair Housing Partnership Of Greater Pittsburgh is a nonprofit organization serving southwestern Pennsylvania through fair housing advocacy and comprehensive housing counseling services, acting as a fair housing advocate and enforcer of fair housing laws, and providing education and outreach to the community regarding the Fair Housing Act.

Tagged With Fair Housing Lawsuit Over Its Section 8 Rent Subsidy Application Process, City Of Phoenix Agrees To Make Procedure Easier For Those With Disabilities &/Or Limited English Proficiency

From the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development:
  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) [] announced an agreement between the City of Phoenix, Arizona and two fair housing organizations resolving multiple complaints of housing discrimination.

    The Southwest Fair Housing Council (SFHC) and the Arizona Fair Housing Center (AFHC)(1) alleged Phoenix violated the Fair Housing Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its administration of the City's federally funded Housing Choice Voucher [Section 8 rent subsidy] program.

    Specifically, the organizations claimed the city did not make its online pre-application process accessible to persons with disabilities, provided vital documents in English only, and failed to notify applicants with limited English proficiency (LEP) that they could request language assistance. Read the agreement.
    The case came to HUD's attention when SFHC and AFHC filed a complaint alleging the City of Phoenix engaged in discriminatory housing practices, including how the City's housing authority managed its HUD-supported Housing Choice Voucher program. According to the complaint, the program, which had not been open to new applications since 2005, was due to be opened for new applicants in early August, 2016. Shortly before the scheduled opening, the groups filed their complaint.
    According to the agreement, after the complaint was filed, the city of Phoenix immediately adjusted its processes to ensure that they comply with civil rights laws. [...] Under the terms of the agreement, the city of Phoenix also will
  • continue accepting both online and paper pre-applications for the Housing Choice Voucher program;
  • continue providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities, including accepting pre-applications over the phone, providing one-on-one assistance to people with disabilities in completing their applications, and providing interpreter services to applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing;
  • continue providing oral language assistance, including interpreter service, to LEP [limited English proficiency] persons who need assistance in the application process;
  • continue ensuring staff are available during business hours to respond to reasonable accommodation and language assistance requests; continue to prominently display on its website the availability of language assistance and reasonable accommodations;
  • post the particulars of the Conciliation/Voluntary Compliance Agreement on its website in English, Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Chinese; and
  • obtain fair housing training for its staff.
For more, see HUD Approves Settlement Between City Of Phoenix And Fair Housing Organizations (Agreement resolves discrimination claims based on race, national origin and disability).
(1) The Southwest Fair Housing Council (SFHC) and the Arizona Fair Housing Center (AFHC) are non-profit, tax-exempt fair housing organizations based in Tucson and Phoenix, respectively, and provide services throughout Arizona.