SAN FRANCISCO - A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Gregory Finkelson with conspiracy, theft of government property, and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Special Agent in Charge Mark Kaminsky, and IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Darren Lian of the Oakland Field Office.
According to the indictment, between August 2006 and February 2020, Finkelson, 63, of San Francisco, stole approximately $341,455 in Section 8 rental assistance by hiding from housing authorities his true income, his ownership interest in the house where he lived and for which he received Section 8 vouchers, and the fact that he was the owner and president of a company called American Corporate Services (ACS) – all to qualify for and receive Section 8 benefits. For example, Finkelson reported to housing authorities that from 2015 to 2017 he earned $12,000 per year working as a notary public for ACS. In fact, Finkelson was the president and sole owner of ACS, a company that earned $2.8 million in gross income between 2013 and 2018.
The Section 8 program, funded by HUD, is a rent subsidy program that helps low- and moderate-income families obtain housing. To qualify for Section 8 assistance, families must have an income no higher than 80% of the area medium income. Further, to be eligible, a tenant cannot have an ownership interest in their rental unit, and tenants must accurately report their income and assets. In San Francisco, the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) administers the Section 8 program for HUD.
Finkelson, according to the indictment, worked with a coconspirator in Russia to hide the fact that he owned the house where he lived. Finkelson also established numerous bank accounts in his coconspirator’s name or in the name of both Finkelson and his coconspirator to conceal the fact that he received and controlled the Section 8 payments rather than a separate landlord. In addition, Finkelson subdivided the single-family home where he lived into three units. Finkelson lived in one unit, his business operated out of a second unit, and Finkelson rented out a third unit. Finkelson caused rent payments from all three units to be funneled into accounts that he controlled, and Finkelson paid personal expenses out of those accounts using rental income. For example, from January 2018 to February 2020, at Finkelson’s direction, SFHA direct deposited Section 8 funds into a Wells Fargo Bank account. Finkelson paid personal expenses with Section 8 funds from that account and transferred funds, including Section 8 payments for his home, to his business, ACS. According to the indictment, Finkelson made payments toward a vacation timeshare in Maui, Hawaii, in part with Section 8 funds designed to help low- and moderate-income families rent decent housing.
In sum, the indictment charges Finkelson with conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; theft of government property, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641; and three counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i).
Finkelson’s initial appearance in San Francisco federal court has not yet been scheduled.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Finkelson faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, if appropriate, for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; 10 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, if appropriate, for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641; and 20 years’ in prison, a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds, plus restitution, if appropriate, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i). The court also may order an additional term of supervised release to begin after a prison term as part of any sentence. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The case is being prosecuted by the Corporate and Securities Fraud Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christiaan Highsmith is prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Elizabeth Kim. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI, HUD-OIG, and IRS-CI.