Life-Changing Decisions

The former head of the St. Clair Housing Commission, accused of embezzling more than $336,000 in low-income housing funds.

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There are many decisions made in life that can alter our future, including the choice to attend college, move to a new location for a job, get married, or become a parent. The former head of the St. Clair Housing Commission in Michigan made an unfortunate life-changing decision by choosing to commit housing fraud. She embezzled more than $336,000 in low-income housing funds for personal use and is now looking at a possible life-altering punishment behind bars. (Actions do have consequences you know.)

The former executive director worked for the housing commission for five years before initiating the scheme to steal federal money intended to help vulnerable citizens obtain appropriate low-income housing. The eight-year ruse was carried out with the assistance of family members including her husband, father, brother, son, daughter-in-law and son-in-law. (Looks like she had the whole family tree involved.)

The woman reportedly used the housing commission’s credit cards to purchase $166,000 worth of adult and infant clothing, furniture, appliances, mattresses, food, beauty supplies and medications from Amazon, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. She also falsified lease agreements for low-income housing and used the federal money to buy homes for her relatives. (One of the bogus lease agreements enabled her son to obtain housing.)

Additionally, she instructed relatives to open bank accounts so federal subsidy payments could be deposited. (Family members used these funds for personal use including the rental of a Florida home.) And as if that was not enough, she also claimed her son-in-law was the landlord of a low-income property. (The low-income property turned out to belong to the former director.)

The former executive director abruptly retired and moved to Southeast Georgia where she bought a $325,000 custom-built house that included five bedrooms, a salt-water pool, game room and a detached man cave, just to name a few amenities. (Hmm, I wonder where she got the cash for that?)

The 56-year-old fraudster was charged with the crime one year after her abrupt retirement. She struck a plea deal where she admitted to conspiring with relatives to commit housing fraud. The woman wisely agreed to pay $336,241 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (Her crime is punishable up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.)

While the Michigan woman’s defense lawyer called her a “law-abiding citizen for the vast majority of her life,” this housing fraud case is a perfect example of how one decision can have a huge impact on a person’s future. (In a domino effect, the life-altering decision also impacted her family members.) Knowing now what she didn’t know then, it’s a safe bet to assume that this fraudster would make a more prudent choice if offered the chance for a “do-over.”

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Booze-buying, thieving housing exec pleads guiltypublished by The Detroit News on August 29, 2017.

Detroit – The former head of the St. Clair Housing Commission, accused of embezzling more than $336,000 in low-income housing funds and spending the cash on booze, beauty products, bedroom furniture and homes for her family, struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors Tuesday.

Lorena Loren, 56, of Nicholls, Georgia, reached the plea deal less than a month after being charged in federal court with conspiracy to commit federal program fraud during an eight-year scheme that benefited and involved relatives, including her husband and son, according to federal court records.