Former Worcester Housing Official Convicted of Fraud Charges
BOSTON – A former employee of the City of Worcester’s Housing Development Office and Executive Office of Economic Development was convicted by a federal jury yesterday in connection with a $2.3 million fraud scheme relating to the redevelopment of a multi-family property in Worcester.
Jacklyn M. Sutcivni, 47, of Dracut, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and false claims. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for Dec. 14, 2021.
In August 2016, Sutcivni was indicted along with James E. Levin, a Natick real estate developer and attorney. Levin pleaded guilty in September 2020 and was sentenced on March 30, 2021 to 37 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay forfeiture of $1,955,000.
“The defendant’s job was to distribute public funds to develop safe and affordable housing for Worcester, but as the jury found, she used her position as the City’s Director of Housing to allow $2.3 million in taxpayer money to go to a private developer – for work that was never even done,” said Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “She abused the trust placed in her at the expense of the people of Worcester and their bid to revitalize their neighborhoods.”
“All around us, we see the country in the grips of an affordable housing crisis. Neighborhood Stabilization and HOME Program funds are HUD monies that are supposed to be used to eliminate blight, and repair or rehabilitate housing for our low- and middle-income neighbors,” said Christina Scaringi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, Northeast Region. “Defendant Sutcivni misused her position when she approved the payment of HUD funds for work she knew had not been done, resulting in the waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars meant to create affordable housing. This guilty verdict reinforces the message that our communities will not tolerate those who undermine the administration of precious HUD dollars earmarked for the creation of affordable housing for our citizens. The HUD Office of Inspector General thanks our partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their committed and steadfast efforts in bringing this matter to a just conclusion.”
“City employees, regardless of their position are supposed to serve their fellow citizens, not steal from them. But Jacklyn Sutcivini did exactly that, in conspiring with James Levin, to fraudulently obtain $2.3 million from the City of Worcester for their own personal enrichment at the expense of hard-working taxpayers. This verdict serves as a stark reminder that there are serious consequences for fraudulently siphoning public funds and of the FBI’s commitment to protecting the integrity of government at all levels from the spectra of public corruption,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.
The City of Worcester distributes grant funds on behalf of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Sutcivni, as part of her job with the City of Worcester’s Housing Development Office, was responsible for reviewing payment requests for HUD grant funds. From July 2010 to September 2011, Sutcivni approved seven fraudulent HUD grant funding requests submitted by Levin for work he falsely claimed to have completed on a building he managed and associated costs. Sutcivni approved the payment requests despite knowing they were fraudulent. As a result, the City of Worcester issued approximately $2,365,050 in federal funds to Levin that he was not entitled to. After the City issued the payment, Sutcivni or other City officials submitted reimbursement requests to HUD or DHCD for HUD funds.
The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of submission of false claims provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $2,365,050. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting U.S. Attorney Mendell, HUD OIG Northeast Region SAC and FBI Boston Division SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle L. Dineen Jerrett and Danial E. Bennett of Mendell’s Worcester Branch Office are prosecuting the case.