INDIANAPOLIS—Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney, announced that Damon L. Thomas, age 37, formerly of Indianapolis, and Tara L. Wilson, age 38, formerly of Muncie, have been charged with theft of government property. This follows an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), Office of Inspector General.
“These charges should serve as a powerful warning as to how seriously our office takes any allegation of government fraud or waste,” Hogsett added. “We will continue to work with our federal and state law enforcement partners to investigate and punish those who prey on Hoosier taxpayers with the full force of federal law.”
HUD’s Section 8 program is designed to help low and very low income families obtain housing in HUD-approved apartment complexes. HUD provides rental assistance that pays the difference between the rent the tenant can afford to pay and the rent charged by the HUDapproved Section 8 complex. If the tenant has no income, HUD pays 100 percent of the tenant’s rent and utilities.
The information alleges that Thomas was the property manager for Elgin Manor Apartments, a HUD-approved Section 8 apartment complex in Muncie. Wilson worked as Thomas’s administrative assistant. Thomas’s duties included the execution of HUD forms that reflected each tenant’s income and the percentage of each tenant’s rent being paid by HUD.
Between January 2008 and December 2009, Thomas and Wilson allegedly stole approximately $59,500 in HU.S.ction 8 assistance rental payments by falsifying the HUD forms to reflect that tenants had no income which caused HUD to pay 100% of the tenants’ rent. Thomas and Wilson are alleged to have collected and pocketed cash rent payments from the tenants and used these rent payments for their personal benefit without the knowledge of HUD or the tenants, all of whom believed Thomas and Wilson were forwarding the cash rent payments to HUD.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe H. Vaughn, who is prosecuting the case for the government, Thomas and Wilson each could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. An initial hearing will be scheduled in Indianapolis, before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.
An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.