By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
It turned out that "John Brown" was fictitious and that both the order of protection and the domestic-violence incident report had been forged, according to prosecutors. Last October, Malone admitted to investigators that she had paid $500 to a woman named Cynthia who was selling Section 8 paperwork.
In October 2010, Malone was charged with grand larceny. She allegedly stole $14,000 worth of subsidies. Malone has pled not guilty, and the case is pending.
Over the past year, six women have been arrested for allegedly falsely claiming to be victims of domestic violence in order to obtain public housing or Section 8 housing vouchers. In another case, Chevelle Richardson filled out an application for her 20-year-old daughter, Chandera, that included not only a fabricated domestic-violence incident report and a phony order of protection but also a forged letter from the domestic-violence shelter organization Safe Horizon.
As the government cuts sharply back on its subsidized-housing programs, there may be greater incentive for people to falsify complaints. Because of long waiting lists and budget cuts in the program, the only people who are now permitted to apply for Section 8 subsidies are victims of domestic violence, youngsters who become too old to stay in foster care, and people in witness-protection programs. It's a crisis for people who would legitimately qualify for public housing: Officials say there are currently 130,000 people on the waiting list.
Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the city's Department of Investigation, says she finds the domestic-violence fakers to be especially repugnant: "I mean, there are real victims of domestic violence out there," she tells the Voice.
In February 2010, 21-year-old public-housing tenant Unique Jones put an ad on Craigslist to sublet her two-bedroom apartment in the heart of hipster-filled Williamsburg-Bushwick corridor. Her apartment, she wrote in the post, had "hardwood floors" and was located in a "peaceful area." The rent she asked for was a steal: "$400 a month with $800 security deposit."
Jones also noted something that, in less desperate times, might have scared potential renters away: "Public housing apt building," the ad read, "working class only."
But Jones had no shortage of responses to her ad for the apartment in the Williamsburg Houses, a 20-building residential complex built in 1937 on 12 blocks near Bushwick Avenue. According to the city's Department of Investigation, Jones defrauded eight people, including students, a security guard, and a couple. Jones took their deposit money but then, in most cases, prevented them from moving in.
One man, an exchange student from Thailand, told officials that he paid Jones $600 to move in but was given a key that did not work. She is accused of collecting $2,400 from two other prospective renters whom she prevented from moving in and, at the same time, collecting $2,400 from a man to whom she actually did rent the apartment, for six months beginning in March, say authorities.
Her actual rent was $256 a month, which meant she defrauded the city of around $3,500.
Jones was charged with grand larceny, petty larceny, and fraud. According to authorities, she is still at large.
Victims of the scam told investigators that they weren't aware that it was illegal for New York City Housing Authority tenants to sublet their apartments.
Kill the Super
Shayne Sinclair had an onerous, but ostensibly simple, task. Errol Irving, one of the tenants in a Brooklyn boarding house at 1485 East 51st Street, near Avenue L in Flatlands, owed three weeks' worth of back rent.
It amounted to several hundred dollars, and the 40-year-old super had great incentive to go to the boarding house on the evening of February 4 to collect it. According to news reports, he himself hadn't been paid by the landlord for three weeks—and he was also struggling financially, trying to take care of his wife and baby daughter.
For his trouble, Sinclair was stabbed in the chest by the 60-year-old Irving, say police, who found him unconscious at the boarding house at about 8:30 p.m. The super was rushed to Brookdale University Hospital, where he died.
Irving has been charged with second-degree murder, according to news reports, and he already had a miserable track record as a human being: He had been released from prison in 2007 after serving 20 years for sodomy and sexual abuse, according to news reports. At last report, Irving was being held without bail in jail, where rent is free.
The super's family was, of course, devastated. They say that Sinclair would have been paid by the landlord after collecting Irving's overdue rent. The Daily News quoted a relative as saying, "He wasn't doing anything wrong. All he wanted was his pay. He left home to go look for a paycheck, and he's dead now."
The family told reporters that Sinclair was a kind and gentle man and that he had planned to move from the city with his wife and daughter when he could afford to.
In the wee hours of December 1, 2009, the use of a mattress kept people awake at an apartment building at 683 East 222nd Street in the Wakefield neighborhood of the Bronx. But not for the usual reason.
Omari Richards, 26, the basement tenant in a building owned by George Shim, 37, was quarreling with Shim's fiancée, according to news reports and police.