Former HUD Employee Sentenced in Federal Court on Fraud ChargesJanuary 7, 2020, 7:40 AM HST (Updated January 7, 2020, 7:40 AM)
A former employee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), was sentenced in Honolulu’s federal court to five years in prison after being convicted on various fraud charges.
Chun Mei Tong, 43, of Honolulu was convicted after a two-week jury trial in August 2019. She was found guilty of five counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. On Monday, Chief United States District Judge J. Michael Seabright sentenced Tong to 66 months of imprisonment, approximately $207,000 in a forfeiture money judgment, $207,000 in restitution and three years of supervised release.
Tong was also prohibited from participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as the “Section 8 Program”), and from engaging in the business of real estate.
In sentencing Tong, Seabright stated that he was “troubled” by the “ease with which Ms. Tong lies,” particularly when she took the witness stand at trial and her “brazen conduct and brazen lies” “throughout the entire process.”
The court explained that Tong “went to great lengths to hide her involvement” in the HUD scheme by forging documents and using aliases, among other efforts.
The evidence presented at trial showed that from 2014 to 2019, Tong used an alias to act as property manager and landlord for five properties she rented to Section 8 voucher holders. Tong covered up her ownership of two of the properties and forged the signatures of the owners of three of the properties to ensure that all of the HUD funds paid to the landlord went directly to her company’s bank account. She received more than $207,000 from HUD as part of her scheme.
“My office will continue to combat fraud in federally funded programs from defendants like Tong, who use their position as government employees to defraud the government and vulnerable victims in our communities, and, in doing so, illicitly line their pockets with taxpayer funds,” said Kenji M. Price, United States Attorney. “Tong, and defendants like her, think they will find prosperity by taking advantage of their positions. Tong, and the like, are mistaken. What they will find is our office holding them accountable for their greed.”
The case was investigated by HUD’s Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebecca A. Perlmutter and Morgan Early.
“One of the primary goals of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General is to reduce fraud and abuse in HUD’s rental assistance programs. This responsibility is magnified when a HUD employee uses her position to perpetrate such fraud. The public should have confidence that its servants oversee federal programs with the utmost integrity; the significance of this sentencing reflects the importance of ensuring that pubic trust,” stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Gibson.