Former HUD official pleads guilty to stealing $843,000
A former loan specialist at the Department of Housing and Urban Development has pled guilty to several counts of wire fraud after he stole $843,000 in taxpayer money.
Thompson was responsible for selling properties acquired by the government after borrowers defaulted on their HUD-guaranteed mortgages. Specialists like Thompson were tasked with ensuring the sale of these properties at the best possible price to reimburse the government for taxpayer funds made to mortgage lenders for insured loans. Instead, he funneled portions of the proceeds into bank accounts he controlled, netting himself $843,000 in the process.
Thompson scheme went undetected for nearly a year. To conceal his fraud, he fabricated settlement documents with false sales prices and even buyer names.
“Brian Thompson exploited his government job to rob the American taxpayer of more than $800,000,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen. “This crooked HUD employee diverted the proceeds of real estate sales from the U.S. Treasury to his own pockets through lies and trickery. He now faces serious prison time as a result of criminal breach of the public trust.”
By serious prison time, Machen means between 33 and 41 months in prison, which Thompson got through a plea agreement. The maximum sentence for his crime — technically wire fraud — is 20 years. He also has to pay back all the money to the federal government, and, according to the Department of Justice release, “is subject to a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $645,700.”
Thompson worked for HUD’s Office of Loan Guarantee for Native American programs, which helps Native Americans get access to home mortgage financing. “Because of the unique status of Indian lands being held in Trust, Native American homeownership has historically been an underserved market. Working with an expanding network of private sector and tribal partners, the [Indian Home Loan Guarantee] Program endeavors to increase access to capital for Native Americans and provide private funding opportunities for tribal housing agencies,” its website explains.
The article doesn't say, but most of these fraud cases are the result of someone turning in the crooked federal employee. Routine audits don't usually catch the criminals because in a budget of tens of billions of dollars, who's going to miss less than a million?
You don't have to be a master criminal to figure out how to game the system and steal the taxpayer blind. Nor do you usually have to worry very much about getting caught. But tightening the rules to help prevent fraud would mean extra scrutinty for federal employees. You can imagine how that would go down in the bureacracy.