2006-03-24 / Community

Local Busted For Defrauding NYCHA

A Hammels woman who works for the Department of Education was arrested and charged recently with defrauding the New York City Housing Authority out of thousands of dollars.

Susanne Hills, 41, a tenant of a 4-room apartment located at the Hammel Houses since 1995, allegedly concealed her DOE employment from NYCHA defrauding the housing agency out of $17,933 in rental subsidies from February 2001 through May 2005.

Although Hills has been employed as a Paraprofessional with the DOE since December 2000, earning between $16,585 and $24,671 per year, she reported only Public Assistance or minimal employment income with the YMCA during that time period. Hills' concealment of her DOE income caused NYCHA to charge her between $137 and $171/month rent, rather than the $495 maximum monthly rent that she should have paid.

Hills, who was arrested along with nine other DOE employees accused of fraud, is charged with grand larceny in the third degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, and falsifying business records in the first degree.

"It's shameful that these defendants who serve as role models to our City schoolchildren chose to commit fraud in order to obtain housing subsidies they were not entitled too. These defendants' actions deprived truly needy low-income families of the opportunity to obtain low-income housing," said Rose Gill Hearn, Department of Investigation Commissioner. The DOI announced the arrests on March 23.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown also commented on the issue: "With so many New Yorkers on long waiting lists for affordable housing, the City cannot be misled into providing subsidized apartments to those who can afford to live elsewhere - and, in some cases even do, such as the Queens school principal who allegedly sublet her NYCHA apartment to an unauthorized tenant for nearly two years. Such fraud cannot be tolerated and those who improperly take advantage of the City must now face the consequences of their actions."

Many of these arrests resulted from NYCHA's newly granted access to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's "Enterprise Income Verification" system which enables NYCHA to identify income not

being reported by tenants.

These arrests are part of an ongoing city-wide crackdown by DOI and New York area prosecutors that have resulted since 1995 in the arrest of 422 residents, including 136 city, state, and Federal employees, who were charged with stealing more than $8.4 million in rent and welfare subsidies by hiding their income and assets from the city. So far, 326 cases have resulted in convictions and over $4.6 million in restitution. Since 2006, 13 individuals have been arrested for illegally receiving over $298,740 in government housing benefits.

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