FORMER ASSISTANT FINANCE DIRECTOR AT BELLE GLADE NON-PROFIT HOUSING CORPORATION PLEADS GUILTY TO EMBEZZLEMENT
Wifredo A. Ferrer, 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 that defendant Vivene Patricia Richards, 54, of Loxahatchee, Florida pled guilty today before the U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch.
Richards pled guilty to a one-count Information charging her with theft from an organization receiving federal funds, to wit, Noah Development Corporation (NOAH), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666.
According to documents filed and statements made in court, Richards was the Assistant Director of Finance at NOAH, a non-profit 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 Assistant Director of Finance, Richards was responsible for the fiscal management and issuance of funding for all of NOAH’s properties and programs. As part of her plea, she admitted that between 2005 - 2009, she used her position to embezzle approximately $131,094 for herself and others. She further admitted that she personally received or converted to the use of her co-workers and friends more than $73,000 in calendar year 2007.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “This defendant abused her position at NOAH to embezzle more than $100,000 that could have been used to provide housing and other needed services to low-income residents of Belle Glades. Programs such as NOAH are there to help the needy, not to provide a private piggy bank for fraudsters.”
“Fraudsters who prey on tax payer funded programs aimed at helping those who are less fortunate or in need, will be aggressively pursued by HUD-OIG and our law enforcement partners. We will seek criminal prosecution to the fullest extent of the law to combat these acts of fraud,” said Special Agent in Charge Mowery.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of HUD Office of the Inspector General and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carolyn Bell and Shaniek Maynard.
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.