Former HUD employee sentenced to 66 months in prison for fraud and identity theft
News Release from UH DoJ, January 6, 2020
HONOLULU, Hawaii –Chun Mei Tong, 43, of Honolulu, was sentenced today in federal court by Chief United States District Judge J. Michael Seabright to 66 months of imprisonment, approximately $207,000 in a forfeiture money judgment, $207,000 in restitution, and 3 years of supervised release for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. She was convicted of five counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft after a jury trial on August 26 - September 5, 2019.
As a former employee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), Tong was 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. The evidence presented at trial demonstrated 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.
In sentencing Tong, Judge 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.
Kenji M. Price, United States Attorney, said, “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. 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.”
“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.
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.
Sept, 2019: Jury Finds Former HUD Employee Guilty of Fraud and Identity Theft
Dec, 2018: HUD Sec 8 Official Faces Federal Charges for Self-Dealing