Lorena Loren, the former executive director of the St. Clair Housing Commission, was sentence today to 37 months in federal prison after having pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit federal program fraud, announced United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Brad Geary, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Jeffery E. Peterson, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Loren, 55, of Nicholls, Georgia, admitted to conspiring with several family members to steal federal funds provided to the Commission by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (‘HUD”) to administer HUD’s low-income housing programs within St. Clair County. Loren admitted to engaging in various fraudulent schemes to unlawfully obtain over $336,000 in federal funds.
According to court records, Loren stole approximately $162,000 earmarked for HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly known as Section 8 housing, which allows low-income families to lease privately owned rental properties with the assistance of HUD rental subsidies administered by the Commission. As part of this fraudulent scheme, between August of 2008 and August of 2016, Loren fraudulently entered into Section 8 contracts from which, at various times, she and nearly all of her immediate family members directly benefitted, in violation of HUD’s regulations and guidelines. In addition to falsifying Section 8 housing contracts and lease agreements by using nominees for lease agreements for Loren’s son, Loren and several relatives falsely claimed they owned rental properties which were, in fact, owned by others; where former Section 8 tenants resided; and, owned by Loren herself. Loren, as executive director, then fraudulently issued Section 8 rental subsidy payments to relatives, in some instances, even in the names of former Section 8 tenants who were no longer in the program. Loren also directed family members to establish joint bank accounts to facilitate access to the ill-gotten funds by various members of her family...