The Metropolitan Housing Authority could have helped three or four other families with the money Danette Stevenson is accused of taking, according to the agency’s director.
“This is something really, really serious,” Patrick Heydinger said. “It was taxpayer money.”
Stevenson, 37, faces a federal indictment charging her with two counts of theft of government property and three counts of making false statements.
The indictment alleges Stevenson stole and converted to her own use more than $38,000 in Social Security payments made to her that she was not entitled to receive.
The indictment further alleges Stevenson stole and converted to her own use $14,156 in Housing Choice Voucher Program benefits that she was not entitled to receive.
“She was a client receiving rental assistance,” Heydinger said.
Stephanie Hartzler, Section 8 coordinator for the Metropolitan Housing Authority, worked directly with Stevenson.
“She failed to report her husband’s income, and she failed to report that she was married,” Hartzler said. “Someone contacted the fraud hotline, and the inspector general got involved.”
Stevenson was a client from October 2007 to May 2012. Hartzler said the fraud took place the entire time. Stevenson was indicted in March.
“Obviously, she’s no longer on the program or receiving any benefits from us,” Heydinger said.
Stevenson’s case is awaiting a pre-sentence report.
“It’s basically a show-and-tell where you determine what sentence the person would be looking at if they pleaded guilty,” said Michael Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Hartzler said there are plenty of people who truly need assistance.
“We have a large waiting list of approximately 1,200 to 1,300 families,” she said.
Hartzler said most people have to wait two-and-a-half to three years to be part of the metro housing program.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Tripi and trial attorney Richard Hamilton Jr. following investigation by agents of the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.