Saturday, May 25 2013 11:37 PM EDT2013-05-26 03:37:45 GMT
Albany Panther's first ever beer fest just wrapped up tonight. For 25 bucks beer lovers sampled more than 20 types of beer at the Civic Center and there was plenty of entertainment. Musical acts, suchMore >>
Albany Panther's held their first ever beer fest Saturday night. More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 11:33 PM EDT2013-05-26 03:33:38 GMT
Albany Police held a gospel concert to raise money for their annual community picnic event. Musical artists from around south Georgia performed at the Albany Municipal Auditorium Saturday afternoon.More >>
Albany Police held a gospel concert to raise money for their annual community picnic event.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 10:30 PM EDT2013-05-26 02:30:39 GMT
A Turner County man is now in custody after he had a standoff with deputies for about two hours Saturday evening. Sheriff Andy Hester says deputies were called to the home of Ricky Nelson on CoverdaleMore >>
A man had a standoff with Turner County deputies for about two hours Saturday evening.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 6:27 PM EDT2013-05-25 22:27:57 GMT
Supporters of a 6-year-old Albany boy battling a serious brain disorder are coming together once more to help with his medical bills. This time, with a Vegas style event. This may seem like a regularMore >>
Supporters of a 6-year-old Albany boy battling a serious brain disorder are coming together once more to help with his medical bills. This time, with a Vegas style event.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 4:52 PM EDT2013-05-25 20:52:02 GMT
A woman is recovering after her SUV was struck by another vehicle, flipping it several times. It happened around 3:15pm Saturday, near the 1500 block of U.S. Highway 19. Officials say John Earley wasMore >>
A woman is recovering after her SUV was struck by another vehicle, flipping it several times.More >>
ALBANY, GA (WALB) – More southwest Georgians are arrested in a statewide crackdown on housing fraud.
Thirteen people in Dougherty County have been jailed charged with theft by taking or making false statements for illegally securing Section 8 housing vouchers. All of the suspects have already been kicked out of the program.
When you realize the Albany regional Department of Community Affairs office has more than 500 people on a closed waiting list to get Section 8 housing vouchers you can see just how prized of a commodity they are.
Sherita Thornton, an Autry State Prison Corrections officer from Albany, Porshia Wright, a former secretary at Albany's Law Enforcement Center, Ernestine Burden an Equity Group employee, along with Misty Martin and Stephanie Ammons in Lee County, just some of the 43 faces in southwest Georgia charged with fraud in HUD's crackdown.
"They are felony charges, these are felony charges under the current status of the law to fail to properly report income or to not comply with the regulations," said Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards.
Dan McCarthy with Albany's Housing Authority is familiar with the program because the authority runs their own Section 8 voucher program. No one in their program is charged. Since the voucher's value goes down when additional income is reported, many fail to do so.
"With the Section 8 program the rent that the tenant pays is based on the income they have and they report their income and housing authorities verify that," said Dan McCarthy, Albany's Housing Authority Director.
There's not much turnover in the programs. People often remain in Section 8 housing for years. Signs in the regional Department of Community Affairs office and the city's office clearly warn the consequences of fraud, but the waiting lists may explain more about why people cheat.
"We haven't opened our waiting list since 2003 and last year we didn't have anybody give up their voucher so, we didn't have any turn over from the voucher," said McCarthy.
Same for the regional office who wouldn't talk with us on camera. Both offices say the program isn't growing, no new funding is being added making those already enrolled in the program, more desperate to hold on to the assistance they're getting.
Dan McCarthy told us he's glad the federal government is pursuing criminal charges for the fraud. He hopes it will make others think twice about trying to get away with not reporting additional income.
HUD encourages anyone who has knowledge of fraud in the Section 8 rental assistance program to contact the HUD Inspector General's office at 1-800-347-3735 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.