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April 14, 2010

Boston, MA... A Woburn man was convicted today in federal court of theft of public money, in connection with Section 8 rental subsidy benefits.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Diane Hill-DeChellis, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development - Office of Inspector General and Police Commissioner Edward Davis of the Boston Police Department, announced that SYLVESTER E. OKONOBOH (“OKONOBOH”), 50, of Woburn, Mass., pled guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf, to one count of theft of public money, in connection with Section 8 rental subsidy benefits.

At the plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that, had the case proceeded to trial, the evidence would have proven that from on or about October of 2005, and continuing through on or about March of 2009, OKONOBOH resided at 87 St. Stephen Street, Apt. 27, Boston, Mass., which is part of the Norway Housing complex. During that period, OKONOBOH received federal rental assistance through the Section 8 rental subsidy program administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).

In June of 2009, Wingate Management Company, LLC, the property managing agent for Norway Housing, discovered that OKONOBOH failed to report all of his earned income as required during his annual certifications. In 2006, 2007 and 2008, OKONOBOH’s actual annual income exceeded Section 8 program limits and made him ineligible for participation in the Section 8 program. Based on his concealed earnings, HUD disbursed approximately $35,759 in Section 8 rental subsidy benefits to which OKONOBOH was not entitled.

Chief Judge Wolf scheduled OKONOBOH’s sentencing for August 10, 2010. OKONOBOH faces a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment; to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General and the Boston Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Antoinette E.M. Leoney in Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

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