Former Pierce County Housing Authority Finance Director indicted for wire fraud
Allegedly stole nearly $7 million by directing payments to her bank accounts and making false entries in housing authority financial records
Seattle – A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment charging former housing authority executive COVA CAMPBELL, aka Cova Hunter with four counts of wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. According to the indictment, between March 2016 and July 2019, CAMPBELL defrauded the Pierce County Housing Authority (PCHA) of $6.9 million. CAMPBELL allegedly used her authority as the organization’s Finance Director to divert public money fraudulently to her own bank accounts.
“This was a lengthy and sophisticated scheme involving millions of public dollars, interstate wires and falsified records,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. “At a time when we are scrambling to fund housing for those who are unsheltered, it is appalling that this money went to pay for cars, vacations, home remodeling, and purchases from gaming websites.”
According to the indictment, CAMPBELL initiated wire transfers of as much as $500,000 from Pierce County Housing Authority accounts to her own bank accounts. One of the transfers was in connection with the purchase of land in Oklahoma. CAMBELL also prepared and submitted false invoices to PCHA and made them appear they were from an outside vendor. PCHA paid the invoices, and the money went into CAMPBELL’s bank accounts. CAMPBELL also misused the PCHA credit card by charging her personal expenses. CAMPBELL covered up her fraud by labeling these fraudulent charges as “investments,” “insurance,” or “maintenance” in the PCHA accounting records.
“Ms. Campbell was entrusted by the people of Pierce County to make decisions based on their best interests. Instead, she betrayed that trust by enriching herself at their expense,” said Raymond Duda, Special Agent in Charge FBI – Seattle.
“Housing and Urban Development –Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) will continue to safeguard HUD funds designated for those citizens most at need and will actively pursue those who betray the public trust by using their positions for private gain,” said Scott J. Tanchak, Special Agent in Charge for the Pacific Northwest..
The Washington State Auditor’s Office uncovered the financial irregularities, and CAMPBELL’s employment was terminated by the Housing Authority on August 8, 2019.
CAMPBELL was arrested yesterday in Redbird, Oklahoma. She had her initial appearance before a judge in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She was released and directed to report to U.S. District Court in Tacoma.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and HUD-OIG. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Werner.