Former Nassau County Housing Official Arrested for Theft of Government Funds
Louis Abate Allegedly Stole More Than $120,000 in Federal Section 8 Housing Benefits Earmarked for Low-Income Long Islanders
Federal law enforcement agents today arrested Louis Abate, the former Fiscal Director for the Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development (from 2004 to 2012), in connection with a scheme to steal federal housing benefits intended for low-income Long Islanders in need of housing financial assistance.1 Abate’s initial appearance on a criminal complaint is scheduled later today before United States Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown, at the U.S. Courthouse, 610 Federal Plaza, Central Islip, New York.
The arrest was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Cary Rubenstein, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General.
Qualifying low income families are eligible to receive Section 8 Program rent subsidies under a federal program funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development (NCOHCD) is the administrative entity responsible for implementing and monitoring the programs and grants funded by HUD in Nassau County, including Section 8 grants. Once a Section 8 applicant is accepted for assistance, NCOHCD, using Section 8 HUD funds, provides rent assistance through payments that are made directly to the recipient’s landlord.
As charged in the complaint, between May 2009 and August 2011 Abate stole more than $120,000 in federal Section 8 rental subsidies from a Section 8 program he oversaw that serviced individuals residing in Island Park, New York. Abate allegedly created a fictitious landlord with no associated tenant, and for more than two years diverted federal Section 8 benefits for this supposed landlord to a bank account Abate personally controlled. As further set forth in the complaint, during this period Abate was successful in illegally paying himself approximately $5,000 per month – more than three times the monthly amount of federal Section 8 subsidies received by any single participating landlord in the Island Park area.
“In these difficult economic times, the defendant abdicated his responsibilities and pocketed funds earmarked for low-income Long Islanders in need of financial assistance for the one of the most basic necessities – affordable housing,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “He will now be held to account for his actions.”
HUD OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Rubenstein stated, “As alleged in the complaint, HUD learned that Abate, using a fictitious name, received three times more in Section 8 payments than any other landlord in the area. Those stolen funds could have gone to the many low to moderate income families who remain on the waiting list for such benefits. Instead, Abate allegedly tried to enrich himself with public monies.”
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a $250,000 fine.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sean C. Flynn.
Name: LOUIS ABATE
Residence: Massapequa, New York
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