Rebates are used to entice customers to buy a product or service. For example, a common sales promotion might include $100 off the retail price if you purchase within a certain time frame, such as during a Labor Day Sale. After submitting the rebate form, a check is usually received in the mail within a month or two. Meanwhile, the company offering the rebate has made a little interest from your purchase while you receive a nice check to spend however you wish. Everyone benefits by getting a piece of the pie so to speak. The Island Park Herald reports that a former public servant, who decided to take a piece of pie that wasn’t his, illegally collected a self-induced rebate of sorts that ultimately scammed the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of more than $120,000.
According to the article, the former Fiscal Director for the Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development stole (Stole is such a strong word) the federal rental subsidies from a Section 8 housing program that he supervised. The Island Park man set up a bank account in the name of a fictitious landlord, who happened to have the same last name as his wife’s maiden name. (Perhaps funneling illegal funds to a different last name – one not associated with his wife – would have been a better idea.) The fraudster diverted the housing benefits over a two-year period, paying himself approximately $5,000 a month. Interestingly enough, this amount was more than three times the monthly amount received by any other local Section 8 landlord. (His eyes were bigger than his stomach – too much pie got him in trouble.)
The Section 8 program is intended to provide reduced housing costs for low-income families and individuals, not greedy civil servants who abdicate their responsibilities. The fraudster pleaded guilty to theft of government funds in relation to a housing scam that took funds earmarked for Long Islanders in need of financial housing assistance. Before sentencing, the man admitted to the judge that he took the money because he was irritated he had not received a raise. (And you think you’re the only government employee that hasn’t seen a raise?) He also stated that at the time, he believed he was dying from cancer and was not in his right mind. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail. The former public servant was also ordered to make restitution of $122,250 and will serve three years of supervised release during which he will have to perform 20 hours of community service per week.
Now look who’s paying a rebate to the government and the Long Islanders who were left out in the cold. The high-ranking Nassau County official abused the trust that New Yorkers placed in him to manage affordable housing for those in need. He definitely won’t be getting any kind of a discount in prison and will have to pay the full price.