Hanover Man Pleads Guilty To Witness Tampering And Agrees To Pay $171,831 To Settle False Claims Act Violation
HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that David K. Shaqfeh, age 49, of Hanover, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on May 18, 2017, before U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner to tampering with a witness. No date has been set for sentencing.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Shaqfeh solicited and encouraged an unidentified witness to give a false statement about supplemental rent payments Shaqfeh received during 2014 and 2015, for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidized rental property in Levittown, Pennsylvania, to investigators from the HUD Office of Inspector General.
In the agreement to settle the False Claims Act violations, the United States alleged that Shaqfeh participated as a landlord in the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) and solicited and received unauthorized side payments from a HCVP participant over and above the authorized rent. HCVP is a program whereby the HUD provides rental subsidies for eligible low-income tenants who locate acceptable rental units on the private market.
The settlement agreement resolves allegations that Shaqfeh submitted a request for tenancy approval to HUD for a HCVP tenant, which was not approved because the rent exceeded the maximum initial rent burden under HUD guidelines. Thereafter, Shaqfeh submitted another request for tenancy approval to HUD for the same HCVP participant with a lower rent amount, which was approved by HUD. However, Shaqfeh continued to collect additional side payments from the HCVP participant to make up for the lower lease amount. HUD’s payments to Shaqfeh were contingent upon his certification that he would only charge the amount of rent approved by HUD and not receive additional rent payments from the HCVP participant. Additionally, HUD would not have paid Shaqfeh on two other HUD contracts had it known he was charging an HCVP participant additional rent on another HUD contract. Shaqfeh has paid $171,831 to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Kim Douglas Daniel and Melissa Swauger are prosecuting the case.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is 20 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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