Former High-ranking Nassau County Housing Official Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds
Louis Abate Stole More Than $120,000 in Federal Section 8 Housing Benefits Earmarked for Low-Income Long Islanders
Louis Abate, the former Fiscal Director for the Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development, pled guilty today in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York before the Honorable Sandra J. Feuerstein to theft of government funds. According to the federal charging document, Abate stole over $120,000 in federal housing benefits intended for low-income Long Islanders in need of housing financial assistance. When sentenced, Abate faces up to 10 years in prison, restitution of $122,250, and a $250,000 fine.
The guilty plea 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. The Fiscal Director of NCOHCD is appointed by the Nassau County Executive.
During his guilty plea allocution this morning, Abate admitted that between May 2009 and August 2011, he stole more than $120,000 in federal rental subsidies from a Section 8 program that he oversaw, which serviced individuals residing in Island Park, New York. Abate admitted further that in order to accomplish his theft, he created a fictitious landlord with no associated tenant, and for more than two years diverted the Section 8 benefits for this supposed landlord to a bank account he personally controlled. Abate was successful in concealing his fraud from the NCOHCD by systematically altering various accounting records to remove any reference to the diverted funds. During this period, Abate illegally paid 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 during that time.
“As a high-ranking Nassau County official, the defendant abused the trust that New Yorkers placed in him to oversee the provision of affordable housing to those in need,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “His theft came at the expense of low-income Long Islanders, whom he helped deprive of one of the most fundamental necessities during these trying economic times. He will now be held to account for his actions.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sean C. Flynn.
Name: LOUIS ABATE
Residence: North Massapequa, New York
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