Over 3 million households rely on HUD’s Section 8 rent subsidy program. The law was designed to insure that low income families have access to safe, decent and sanitary housing. Landlords receive a subsidy from the the government and agree to charge those eligible for the program a below market rental rate. Unfortunately, some landlords “double dip” and take money from both the government and the tenants. In a novel use of the federal whistleblower law, the government punished two Miami landlords for ripping off taxpayers and their tenants.
Prosecutors say that the Reverend George David Horton and John Joseph accepted government HUD money yet still charged tenants rents in excess of federal guidelines in essence allowing them to get paid twice. Both men agreed to hefty fines.
The whistleblowers in these cases were both tenants.
The federal false claims (whistleblower) law allows people with inside information about fraud involving a taxpayer funded program to bring an action in the name of the government. The law allows triple damages thus making it a powerful tool against people who commit fraud. Whistleblowers typically receive 20 to 25% of whatever monies are collected on behalf of the government.
Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer remarked, “We will not tolerate abuse of federal housing or other programs. Schemes such as the ones uncovered in these cases steal taxpayers’ monies and often prey on those who need our assistance the most.”
Whistleblower suits under the false claims act are quite common in cases involving Medicare, government procurement and federally insured mortgages. Using the law to prosecute landlords who overcharge tenants and the government is a novel use of the statute.
We believe whistleblowers are true American heroes that help save taxpayers billions of dollars annually. If you wish to become a whistleblower or simply want to know if you have a claim, give us a call. Our false claims lawyers represent whistleblowers in a wide variety of cases. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (direct). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Maine and San Francisco, California. Services available in many jurisdictions.
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