Three Family Members of the Former Director of the St. Clair Housing Commission Plead Guilty to Conspiracy and to Defrauding HUD
DETROIT – Three family members of the former executive director of the St. Clair Housing Commission, Lorena Loren, pleaded guilty today to various federal offenses due to their involvement in Loren’s fraudulent scheme to steal money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced.
Ison was joined in the announcement by Machelle L. Jindra, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and James Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Lorena Loren (now deceased) had previously pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison for conspiring with several family members to steal federal funds provided to the St. Clair Housing Commission by HUD to administer low-income housing programs within St. Clair County. As part of her scheme, Loren stole approximately $336,000 in federal funds, including money earmarked for HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly known as Section 8 housing, which allows low-income families to lease privately owned rental properties with the assistance of HUD rental subsidies.
Today, the three family members who pleaded guilty before the Honorable Mark A. Goldsmith are as follows:
Brian Loren (Lorena Loren’s husband), age 61, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit federal program fraud. According to court records, Brian Loren conspired with his wife and others to embezzle money from the St. Clair Housing Commission. Brian Loren and another individual opened a joint bank account at a PNC Bank in Deland, Florida. Between August 2014 and August 2016, fraudulent Section 8 rental subsidy payments were issued to the PNC Joint Account Holder to benefit Lorena Loren, Brian Loren, and the PNC Joint Account Holder.
Ryan Loren (Lorena Loren’s son), age 35, pleaded guilty to receiving unlawful compensation from HUD with the intent to defraud. Ryan Loren admitted that, from August 2008 through August 2016, he made false statements to HUD and to a federal grand jury regarding where he lived in order to receive improper funds from HUD. Ryan Loren agreed that he illegally received between $40,000 and $95,000.
Kayla Loren (Ryan Loren’s wife and Lorena Loren’s daughter-in-law), age 31, also pleaded guilty to receiving unlawful compensation from HUD with the intent to defraud. Like her husband, Kayla Loren admitted that, from August 2010 through August 2016, she made false statements to HUD and to a federal grand jury regarding who lived with her in order to receive improper funds from HUD. Kayla Loren also agreed that she received between $40,000 and $95,000.
As part of her their guilty pleas, the defendants paid the remaining restitution owed to HUD. The total amount of restitution paid today was $99,835.29. In total, $336,340.22 in restitution has been repaid to HUD as a result of the prosecutions of the Loren family.
U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison commended the work of HUD and the FBI in conducting this criminal investigation and said, “The HUD Section 8 program serves some of the neediest in our community, very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. We are committed to prosecuting public officials who steal from any federal program and anyone who assists public officials in depriving lawfully-entitled citizens of the vital assistance they need.”
“HUD OIG is committed to bringing to justice those who fraudulently divert Federal housing program resources for their own personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge, Machelle L. Jindra. “Together, with our law enforcement partners, we will pursue and hold accountable bad actors who prey on our most vulnerable communities and steal taxpayer funded resources that support these programs.”
“Having been trusted to serve the residents of St. Clair as a public official, Lorena Loren instead conspired with her family to steal federal funds for herself and her family, and today that family is admitting their collective role in that criminal scheme,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “This case is yet another example of the FBI’s commitment to rooting out public corruption in order to protect the integrity of the institutions that are supposed to serve the best interests of our citizens.
Brian Loren faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Ryan Loren and Kayla Loren each face a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. A sentencing date will be set by the court.
The case was originally prosecuted by Dawn N. Ison and is now being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Resnick Cohen, Craig A. Weier, and Gjon Juncaj.
The case was investigated by agents of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.