Dorchester Landlords and Property Manager Agree to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
Landlords and property manager allegedly sought illegal side payments from Section 8 tenants
BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced today a $57,000 settlement with two landlords and a property manager of three Dorchester apartments to resolve allegations they submitted false claims to the federal government after receiving impermissible excess rent payments from two low income tenants while participating in a federal housing subsidy program.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development provides federal funding through the Federal Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly referred to as “Section 8,” to assist low income individuals in securing safe housing. The funding is provided through vouchers that are administered by local public housing agencies. The housing subsidy, which may cover all or a portion of a tenant’s monthly rent, is paid directly to the landlord. As a condition for receiving the housing subsidy, the landlord contractually agrees not to charge the tenant rent in excess of the amount set by the public housing agency.
Despite this restriction, the landlords, Latchmin Nannan and David Nannan, and the property manager, Rhea Nannan, allegedly collected excess rent from two Section 8 tenants each month at various times between September 2006 and December 2015. Kafer Nevins, one of the two Section 8 tenants, first raised this allegation in a lawsuit filed against the defendants under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.
“The Section 8 program provides precious funding for low income individuals to afford safe housing,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “We will hold landlords to their obligations under the program to ensure that Section 8 tenants will not be taken advantage of.”
“This office places a high priority on investigating allegations of waste, fraud and abuse related to HUD’s Public Housing Program,” said Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Today’s settlement should serve as a warning to those willing to commit fraud involving HUD funded programs that we will pursue such cases to the fullest extent of the law,” she concluded.
The False Claims Act allows private citizens with knowledge of fraud to bring civil actions on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery. The settlement agreement requires the defendants to pay $57,000 to the United States. Mr. Nevins will receive approximately $11,400 of the recovery in this case.
U.S. Attorney Lelling and HUD OIG SAC Scaringi made the announcement today. This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven Sharobem and Elianna Nuzum of Lelling’s Office with the assistance of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.