Builder Sentenced To Prison For Embezzling From Federal Housing Program
LAS VEGAS - - A home builder was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson to 51 months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling from a federal housing grant program that was to be used to build affordable housing for the Navajo people near Chilchinbeto, Arizona, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
William Aubrey, 71, of Mesquite, Nevada, was convicted by a jury in May of two counts of taking and converting money and funds belonging to a tribal organization. A hearing to decide the amount of restitution Aubrey must pay will be held on Oct. 15, 2013. Aubrey is to report to federal prison on Jan. 3, 2014.
“Persons who steal from federal programs cheat the recipients of those programs as well as the American taxpayer,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “As the prosecution of this case demonstrates, persons who steal from federal programs such as HUD or Medicare, will be prosecuted and when convicted face severe penalties.”
The Navajo Nation is a federally recognized sovereign Indian Tribe whose borders encompass a large portion of Arizona and extend into New Mexico and Utah. According to court records and the evidence introduced at trial, Fort Defiance Housing Corporation was a Navajo Nation non-profit corporation entrusted by the Navajo Housing Authority to manage federal housing funds granted to the Navajo Nation. Fort Defiance Housing Corporation contracted with a Lodgebuilder, a for-profit construction company owned and operated by Aubrey, to oversee the construction of several housing developments including the project near Chilchinbeto. Fort Defiance Housing Corporation also empowered Aubrey to manage the federal housing funds granted to that non-profit corporation for purposes of paying subcontractors, suppliers and other construction expenses. Aubrey mismanaged and failed to account for those grant funds. Aubrey transferred the housing grant funds into his own personal account and misused a substantial portion of the funds to pay his own gambling debts and other personal expenses.
Today's announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys' offices and state and local partners, it's the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
The case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for U.S. Housing and Urban Development and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy S. Vasquez and Kathryn C. Newman.