2005-10-28 / Community

Two Charged With Defrauding Housing Authority

Two women were arrested Wednesday and charged with defrauding the New York City Housing Authority out of thousands of dollars while residing in Far Rockaway, according to Department of Investigation (DOI) Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.

The women, one a former NYCHA Section 8 recipient, and the other a NYHA tenant were arrested for fraudulently receiving over $60,000 in rental subsidies. By allegedly falsely representing their incomes to NYCHA, the women paid rents as low as $33 and $144 a month.

Nancy Fajardo, 38, a former Section 8 tenant, of East Elmhurst, Queens, has been charged with grand larceny in the second degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. If convicted, Fajardo, who lived in Far Rockaway when she allegedly committed her offenses, faces up to 15 years in prison. Velma Merriweather, 51, an NYCHA tenant residing in Far Rockaway is charged with grand larceny in the third degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. If convicted, Merriweather faces up to seven years in prison.

“These defendants have learned the perils of their greedy behavior. They now know, as do the 20 others we arrested for similar crimes this year, that housing scams do not work.  DOI investigates these types of cases so that taxpayers’ money is not wasted and so that those who need and qualify for affordable public housing will receive it,” Gill Hearn said.

Fajurdo, a former Section 8 recipient from September 1994 through July 2003 who lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Far Rockaway, allegedly received $51,609 in unwarranted rent subsidies by concealing her employment income from NYCHA.  She reportedly worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse for ARO Community Services, Inc. and/or Kings Harbor Multicare Center from February 1996 through March 2003 and earned between $22,000 and $45,000 per year, but allegedly failed to disclose this employment income to NYCHA. Instead, from February 1996 through August 1999, Fajardo reported welfare as her sole source of income. 

On the Affidavit of Income she submitted in August 19, 1999, Fajardo lists ARO Community Services as her employment, but states she had just started there and hadn’t earned any income yet. However, Fajardo had been employed with ARO for at least three years – since February 1996. On subsequent Affidavit of Incomes, Fajardo again did not list any source of employment. As a result, Fajardo’s share of her monthly rent for the period August 1996 through March 2003 ranged from $33 to $113 per month, while NYCHA paid rent subsidies on Fajardo’s behalf ranging from $745 to $818 per month. Had she accurately reported her income, Fajardo should have paid rent ranging from $445 to $885.83 per month, according to the charges.    

Merriweather, who has been the Tenant of Record of a 4-room apartment in NYCHA’s Redfern Houses since 1976, allegedly obtained $8,964 in undeserved rent subsidies by concealing her employment income from NYCHA for nearly three years, from November 2000 until September 2003.  She has worked as an Assistant Teacher with the True Deliverance Christian School since September 1999, and earned $8,183 to $10,808 a year. In addition, she failed to report this employment on her Affidavits of Income she filed yearly with NYCHA.  Instead, she reported Public Assistance benefits as her only source of income. 

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown’s office is prosecuting the cases. 

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