Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge Joseph Clarke, have announced the arrests of three women for fraudulently receiving more than $120,000 in tax dollars from public assistance housing benefits.
According to authorities, Tracy Warren, Terry Homes, and Megan Benson have been arrested for fraudulently obtaining public assistance benefits administered through the Montgomery County Housing Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
These government housing authorities provided Warren, Homes and Benson with rental assistance, in the form of government subsidized rental payments, based upon their representations that they met certain income and eligibility requirements.
However, investigations revealed that Warren, Homes and Benson continually falsified their respective public housing applications by failing to truthfully report and update their household compositions and incomes.
As a result, these three individuals received a combined total of $123,685 in fraudulent housing benefits from the Montgomery County Housing Authority and the federal government.
Presently, Warren, Homes and Benson are charged with theft by unlawful taking, welfare fraud, unsworn falsification to authorities, securing the execution of documents by deception, and related charges.
Warren, of Pottstown, began receiving housing benefits in October 2000 through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). To receive housing benefits, Warren certified that her household consisted of herself and her four dependents, and that she earned no income from outside employment. However, in June 2004, an investigation by the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General (OIG) revealed that Warren added an additional adult's name to her lease, but never reported the modification of her household to HUD.
Thereafter, from July 2006 through 2010, Warren continued to falsify her required certifications to receive the housing benefit by failing to report this individual as residing with her.
Moreover, the investigation revealed that Warren, and the undisclosed adult residing with her, received unreported wages from various employers throughout the time she was receiving public assistance.
In total, Warren fraudulently received $53,107.00 in the form of ineligible subsidized rental assistance.
Holmes, of North Hills, began receiving rental assistance benefits in September 2002 from the Montgomery County Housing Authority.
To receive the benefits, Holmes certified that she lived with only her son and that their only income was through social security and child support. In August of 2011, an investigation performed by the OIG revealed that Holmes failed to disclose to the Housing Authority that her husband also resided in her household. Additionally, Holmes failed to disclose that her husband and/ or son were earning incomes from 2008 through 2011. As a result of her failure to disclose her additional occupants and incomes, Holmes received $31,965.00 in the form of ineligible subsidized rental assistance.
Benson, of North Hills, began receiving rental assistance benefits in December 1999 from the Montgomery County Housing Authority. From 2009 to 2011, Benson certified to the Housing Authority that her household was limited to herself and three children, and that they received no income from wages. However, the OIG investigation revealed that her boyfriend lived with her in the subsidized housing unit from 2009 through 2011.
Moreover, the investigation also revealed that her boyfriend was earning a consistent income during that same period of time.
At no time did Benson disclose her change in household composition and/ or means of income, as she was required to do during her annual Public Housing Applications. As a result of her failure to disclose her additional occupants and incomes, Benson received $37,813 in the form of ineligible subsidized rental assistance.
Montgomery County District Attorney is pleased to work in conjunction with the Office of Inspector General to reduce the waste and fraud in the public housing program and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used efficiently.
In light of the tightening state and local budget constraints, the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office will continue to work with the Office of the Inspector General to catch and prosecute those receiving unwarranted benefits from the Montgomery County Housing Authority and associated state and federal assistance programs.
Unsecured bail was set for all three defendants. Preliminary hearings were scheduled for Benson and Holmes before Magisterial District Judge Patricia Zaffarano on July 19 at 9:45 a.m. in Ambler.
The preliminary hearing for Warren is scheduled before Magisterial District Judge Edward Kropp, Sr. on July 26 at 1 p.m. in Pottstown.
The cases will be prosecuted by the Captain of the Economic Crimes Team, Assistant District Attorney John Walko and ADA Noah Marlier.