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Three Queens residents, including a Board of Education-employed school custodian, were arrested last week on charges they stole more than $58,000 in housing benefits from the city, officials said.
The three allegedly lied about their employment and income in order to receive the benefits, said Patrick Clark, a spokesman for the city Department of Investigation.
These arrests are part of an ongoing citywide investigation by DOI and the local district attorneys which has since 1995 resulted in the arrest of 198 tenants including 69 city, state or federal employees charged with stealing over $3.9 million in rent subsidy and welfare benefits by concealing their income and assets from the city, DOI Commissioner Edward J. Kuriansky said when he announced the arrests June 26. To date, 152 cases have resulted in conviction and nearly $2 million in court-imposed restitution.
Cheryl Turner, a paraprofessional and custodian at PS 183 in Rockaway, is accused of hiding nearly $180,000 she earned at the school over 11 years in order to obtain Section 8 rent subsidies for her four-room apartment at 2230 Mott Ave. in Far Rockaway.
Turner, 45, and a mother of children age 10, 16, and 19, also allegedly concealed more than $60,000 in Social Security benefits paid to two of her children since 1995.
In all, Turner is accused of defrauding the city for $33,433 in subsidies, the DOI said.
A second Section 8 recipient, Julia Perez, 40, of 32-47 101st St., East Elmhurst, was charged with illegally obtaining $17,495 in rent subsidies from the city housing authority by failing to disclose some $54,000 in income from her job as a sales clerk at the Famous Smoke Shop Inc. in Midtown Manhattan, the DOI said.
Lucine Smalls, a New York City Housing Authority tenant at the Arverne-Edgemere Houses in Edgemere, was charged with concealing income from her job as a bus matron for WE Transport in Plainview, the DOI said. According to the DOI, Smalls, 49, obtained $7,126 in housing subsidies she was not entitled to from 1997 to 2000 for her five-room apartment at 434 Beach 58th St.
According to Clark, the residents are not faced with eviction based on the charges, but the subsidies will be altered to the proper level based on the current income of the tenants.
All three were charged June 26 with grand larceny in the third degree, a class D felony. if convicted, each faces up to seven years in prison.
The lesson these defendants and others would be wise to learn is that with so many needy New Yorkers on long waiting lists for affordable public housing, the city will not be duped into providing subsidized apartments to people who can well afford to pay more or even live elsewhere, Kuriansky said.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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