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Kelly Ballinger wrote her name on rent payments, altered renters’ incomes to steal funds

PORTLAND, Maine: A Glenburn woman pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Portland to embezzling from an organization receiving federal funds and conspiring to alter money orders.

According to court records, Kelly Ballinger, 57, was a former property manager for a Portland apartment complex with residences funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). From about December 2017 to June 2021, Ballinger stole rent payments made by HUD Housing Choice Voucher Program tenants. Ballinger would direct the tenants to pay their rent with a blank postal money order and then would place her name or that of fellow employee Kathleen Conway, 70, on the payee line, adding information such as “groceries” on the memo line to suggest the payments were reimbursements. In some instances, Ballinger would deflate the tenants’ income to as low as $0 so that HUD would pay a larger share of the rent to disguise shortfalls.

Ballinger faces up to ten years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000 on the embezzlement charge and up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 on the alteration of a postal money order charge, followed by up to three years of supervised release. The Court may also order Ballinger to pay restitution to HUD.

Kathleen Conway pleaded guilty to embezzlement on August 2, 2023 and is awaiting sentencing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General and U.S. Postal Inspection Service the investigated the case.

“Ballinger used her position of trust to take advantage of elderly and disabled individuals by preying on their vulnerability for her own self-enrichment,” said Acting Special Agent-in-Charge William Woolard with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General.  “HUD OIG will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to diligently pursue and hold accountable bad actors who willfully misuse Federal assets.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service commends the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for their hard work on this investigation,” said Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division.  “We will continue to conduct investigations and seek prosecution of those individuals who choose to partake in fraud schemes that take advantage of systems that are designed to support those in need.”