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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 15, 2021

Former Pierce County public housing executive pleads guilty to multi-million-dollar embezzlement scheme

Stole nearly $7 million using fake invoices and false wire transfers

Tacoma – A former Pierce County Housing Authority executive pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with her scheme to steal nearly $7 million, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  According to the plea agreement, between March 2016 and July 2019, COVA CAMPBELL, aka Cova Hunter, used a variety of schemes to divert $6.9 in public money to her own bank accounts.  CAMPBELL faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan on April 8, 2021.

According to records filed in the case, 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 covered up her fraud by labeling these fraudulent charges as “investments,” “insurance,” or “maintenance” in the PCHA accounting records.

According to the plea agreement, CAMPBELL used the money to play for land and improvements to that land in Oklahoma, for improvements to her home in Lakewood, Washington, and for travel including trips to Las Vegas and the chartering of a private jet.  She used some of the money for the purchase of two cars.  She also diverted large amounts of the money for gambling and internet gaming.

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 in March 2020 in Redbird, Oklahoma.

Wire fraud is punishable by up to twenty years in prison.  CAMPBELL is required to make restitution of $6,997,486.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and HUD-OIG.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Werner.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Public Corruption
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated January 15, 2021