The 27 people were illegally allowing registered sex offenders to live with them in federally subsidized housing
CLEVELAND -- More than two dozen people who illegally allowed registered sex offenders to live with them in federally subsidized housing have been indicted for theft and tampering with records.
The grand jury voted the charges Friday afternoon. The indictments contain a total of 27 counts of theft and 89 counts of tampering with records, according to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty.
The 27 defendants face from one to seven felony counts each. They are: Yolanda Billups, Mona Boyd, Emma Bradford, Tiffany Coleman, LaDoris Dantzler, Victoria Donald, Hope Elkins, Kendrew Gibson, Michael Gilbert, Angelina Jones, Theresa Jones, Kim Lumpkin, Shirley Mayweather, Curtis McDougle, Shanetta Moncrief, Davitte Nesbitt, Carla Purnell, Rose Ray, Robert Roberson, Linda Shaw, Cornella Smith, Helen Smith, Renee Smith, Brenda Watson, Cynthia Westmoreland, Pamela Westmoreland and Emery Williams II.
Federal and local Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority regulations ban sexual predators who are required by law to register with law enforcement agencies from living in public housing projects or in units that get rental assistance vouchers. They also require the recipients of housing support to file annual declarations of who is living in their government-subsidized units.
In each of these cases, the defendants did not disclose that their households included the convicted sex offenders. By filing these fraudulent declarations, they were able to continue receiving housing assistance. Government investigators estimate the value of assistance illegally received by these defendants between 2007 and 2013 at close to $700,000.
"The Office of Inspector General for HUD will make every effort to ensure that sexual predators are not exploiting federal funds or services intended for Ohio's neediest families," Barry McLaughlin, special agent in charge of the Department of Housing Urban Development's Office of Inspector General in Chicago, said after the indictments were issued.
Beginning in late 2011, HUD inspectors began working with investigators from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department and the Cleveland Division of Police to conduct sexual offender compliance checks.
They discovered that offenders were registering, as required, with the sheriff, and listing addresses that were federally subsidized housing units. Investigators then cross-referenced those documents with the annual declarations of occupancy signed by the defendants in these cases.
Twenty-one of the offenders had been convicted in cases that involved victims who were juveniles.