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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 4, 2019

Rochester Housing Authority Employee Charged With Defrauding Rochester Housing Charities And Obstruction

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a Janis White, 58, of Rochester, NY, was charged by criminal complaint with defrauding and conspiring to defraud the Rochester Housing Charities and with obstructing the government’s investigation. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Resnick, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, the defendant is the Executive Secretary for the Director of the Rochester Housing Authority (RHA) and the previous Board Secretary for the Rochester Housing Charities (RHC). Previously, White also acted as a bookkeeper for RHC and recorded the minutes for the RHC board meetings.

The RHA, which has an annual contract with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides housing opportunities and services for the Rochester community. The RHA formed the RHC to assist in advancing the purposes of the RHA.

HJJ Property Development (HJJ Property) was a business started on March 9, 2018, with an address of 21 Bock Street in Rochester. The business is owned by Margaret and Howard Jones Jr., the defendant’s mother and stepfather, but White actually controlled HJJ Property.

According to the complaint, White, on behalf of HJJ Property, billed the RHC for worked never performed by HJJ Property. The defendant submitted false invoices on behalf of HJJ Property totaling approximately $87,069.00.
White is alleged to have prepared a fraudulent invoice from HJJ Property addressed to the RHC which made it appear that HJJ Property had provided services to the RHC. Despite HJJ Property providing no services to the RHC, the defendant caused the RHC to pay HJJ Property the amount contained on the fraudulent invoice.

On other occasions, a contractor would provide the RHC with an estimate for services to be performed for the RHC. Both the person who approved the hiring of vendors for the RHC (RHC Agent) and the defendant would receive a copy of the invoice. White would then prepare a fraudulent invoice from HJJ Property addressed to the RHC, which made it falsely appear that HJJ Property would be providing the services to the RHC that were actually going to be performed by the contractor. The amount requested to be paid on the HJJ Property fraudulent invoice would be more than what the contractor had originally requested for such services. The defendant or the RHC Agent would then email HJJ Property’s fraudulent invoice to an RHC employee who would submit the invoice for payment to the RHC. The RHC Agent would authorize the RHC to pay HJJ Property the fraudulent amount. White, on behalf of HJJ Property, would then provide a cashier’s check made payable to the contractor in the amount that the contractor had originally estimated and requested for the services it performed for the RHC.  The difference between what the RHC paid HJJ Property and what HJJ Property paid the contractor, was the amount that the defendant and others caused the RHC fraudulently to overpay. Between March and July 2018, that amount was approximately $48,698.00.

On December 14, 2018, HJJ Property was served a Federal Grand Jury subpoena requesting any and all records related to HJJ Property and any work HJJ Property purportedly performed on behalf of the RHC. On February 7, 2019, HJJ Property provided its response to the subpoena. Included in that response were three fraudulent documents which purported to be satisfaction surveys signed by various tenants from three apartment complexes owned by the RHC, pertaining to work performed at such sites by HJJ Property. Also included in the subpoena response was a fraudulent invoice. The surveys and invoice were fraudulent in that they were prepared after the subpoena was served on HJJ Property and were produced in response to the subpoena to make it appear to investigators that HJJ Property was a legitimate company which had performed services for the RHC.

“Janice White is the third defendant to be charged with scheming to defraud the Rochester Housing Authority and related organizations,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “The very purpose of a housing agency, funded with federal dollars, is to provide a stable housing environment for those in our community who need assistance. When individuals entrusted to operate and run such an agency divert funds away from the laudable purposes for which such monies were earmarked and into their own pockets, the entire community is forced to pay a heavy price. This prosecution demonstrates the commitment that my Office has to rooting out corruption, to eliminating those who place their own interests before those of the public whom they are supposed to serve, and, in the process, to restoring the public trust.”  

Charges remain pending against George Moses, former Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Rochester Housing Authority. Former Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false tax return for his role in scheming to defraud the Rochester Housing Authority, and is awaiting sentencing.  

White made an initial appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson and was released.  

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rochester Office, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Gary Loeffert; the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Brad Geary; and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated November 4, 2019