News and Press Releases

FORMER DIRECTOR OF HOUSING AT NOAH DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION IN BELLE GLADE AND ASSOCIATE SENTENCED IN HOUSING FRAUD CASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2010

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Timothy A Mowery, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Inspector General, and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, announced the sentencing of defendants GEORGE KINSLER III, 56, and SHENEIRIS HARRIS, 32, of Pahokee, Florida. Kinsler and Harris were sentenced to 27 months and 4 months, respectively, by the Honorable Kenneth A. Marra in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Kinsler and Harris previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit housing fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and making false statements to FEMA, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. Kinsler also pled guilty to two counts of theft from an organization receiving federal funds, to wit, Noah Development Corporation, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666.

According to the charging documents and statements made in court, Kinsler was Director of Residential Housing Services at Noah Development Corporation. Noah is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provided housing, educational and child development services to low-income residents of the Belle Glades community. To carry out its mission, Noah is funded by federal, state and private charitable entities. As Director of Residential Housing Services, Kinsler was responsible for the fiscal management, maintenance and administration of Noah’s housing properties and programs.

On or about October 24, 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit Palm Beach County. The Belle Glades, Florida area was severely damaged. Many homes were destroyed and many residents were displaced. In response to Hurricane Wilma, Noah instituted a Hurricane Wilma relief program to provide new rental apartments to low-income persons and families displaced by Hurricane Wilma in Palm Beach County. To fund the project, the Palm Beach County Housing and Finance Authority (PBC-HFA) awarded $1.2 million dollars to Noah. These funds were intended to be used to pay rent for individuals and families displaced by Hurricane Wilma for up to one year.

As Director of Residential Housing for Noah, Kinsler was responsible for determining which displaced individuals and families would be placed into the program. Kinsler arranged for a family member and an associate who were not displaced by the hurricane and who did not qualify for housing, to enter the program so that they could have their rent paid for one year. As a result, Kinsler misappropriated $16,000 to pay for housing for his family member and an associate.

In addition, according to charging documents and statements made in court, from March 2007 to March 2009, Kinsler and another associate, SHENEIRIS HARRIS, resided together at 1548 Rev. Jesse Biggs Boulevard in Pahokee, Florida. This residence was owned by Kinsler and was subsidized under a hurricane relief rental assistance program. In March 2007, Harris applied for and received housing assistance for the property that she lived in with Kinsler. Kinsler, as the owner of the property, submitted documentation to HUD identifying himself as the Landlord. Harris and Kinsler provided HUD with additional false information in order to receive funding. The housing fraud scheme resulted in approximately $25,000 in fraudulent government payments to be paid.

According to charging documents and statements made in court, Kinsler and Harris also made false statements to FEMA after Hurricane Wilma in an effort to get FEMA hurricane relief funds.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Subsidized Housing Investigations Initiative, a partnership between the HUD Office of the Inspector General and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Shaniek Maynard and Carolyn Bell of the West Palm Beach Office.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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