News and Press Releases

Four Triad Women Conour Triad Women Convicted Of Housing Fraud Felonies Former Childcare Provider Jailed - SUV Seized

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2007

Greensboro/Winston-Salem – Anna Mills Wagoner, United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, announced today that the former owner of two Greensboro childcare businesses, also a former recipient of federal housing assistance, was sentenced Thursday July 5, 2007, to three months in jail for violating the terms of her probation.

Johnnie Mae Brooks, 39, of Greensboro, was originally sentenced in December 2006 in U.S. District Court, Winston-Salem, to five years probation and ordered to pay $16,865 in restitution after pleading guilty in September 2006 to two felony counts of making false statements to the Greensboro Housing Authority (GHA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Investigators determined Brooks did not report her business income and ownership of automobiles as part of her participation in HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) administered by GHA.

The indictment alleged that, beginning in 2002, Brooks received over $28,000 in housing and utility assistance from GHA after she began operating two childcare businesses, Children of Grace I, operated from Brooks’ subsidized residence, and Children of Grace II, located at 209-A West Florida. Both businesses received childcare subsidies through Guilford County Department of Social Services (DSS). Brooks reported to GHA no more than $15,000 in income in any one year during her participation in the HCVP, but DSS records showed that Brooks’ businesses received over $160,000 in subsidies from March 2002 to December 2005, and over $106,000 in 2005 alone. Brooks also did not report her purchase of a 2003 Lincoln Navigator for which she paid $23,000.

Brooks was initially arrested by federal agents on August 2, 2006. In February of this year, U.S. Marshals seized her 2003 Lincoln Navigator SUV, sold it, and applied the proceeds of approximately $13,000 toward her restitution obligation. But Brooks was arrested again by U.S. Marshals on May 31, 2007, for the probation violation, and was held in custody pending her hearing yesterday.

Brooks is one of four women in the last year who have pled guilty in federal court to felony charges of making false statements to the GHA and HUD.

Judy Bell, 60, of Greensboro, pled guilty in March 2007 and was sentenced on June 14, 2007, to three years probation and ordered to immediately pay $10,658.92 in restitution. Bell falsely reported she was not employed when, in fact, she was employed by the U.S. Postal Service making about $40,000 a year.

La’Vina Darcella Reid, 34, of Browns Summit, pled guilty in December 2006 and was sentenced June 18, 2007, to two days jail time, eight months home confinement, and ordered to pay $26,145.35 in restitution. Reid made false statements about her employment and income to GHA and Guilford County DSS for over six years while she received over $82,000 in Section 8 housing assistance, child care subsidies, and food stamps.

Blondine Wynn, 50, of Greensboro, pled guilty in November 2006 and was sentenced on April 5, 2007, to five years probation and ordered to pay $14,461 in restitution. Wynn made false statements about her employment and income to GHA for over four years while she received over $31,000 in Section 8 housing assistance.

GHA terminated all four women from its subsidized housing programs. DSS also terminated Brooks and Reid from its subsidy programs.

Housing authorities and social service agencies like GHA and Guilford County DSS are federally funded by grants from HUD, HHS, and other departments. These investigations were initiated by Special Agents with HUD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) with the assistance of GHA, Guilford County DSS, the Greensboro Police Department, U.S. Postal Service OIG, and Health and Human Services OIG.

Both the Section 8 and child care subsidy programs have waiting lists for prospective participants. Some applicants wait years before funding becomes available for their participation. Truthful statements made by applicants about household income and composition are critical to accurately determining both eligibility to participate in the programs and the amount of assistance to which participants are entitled. Making false statements to obtain benefits from a housing authority or federally-funded social service agency is the same as making false statements to the federal government.

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