Agent in fraud sentenced to 3 years probation

first_imgA Palmdale woman convicted of participating in a scheme to fraudulently collect nearly $28,000 in government rent subsidies over more than two years for a Palmdale home was sentenced Wednesday to four years’ probation. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of two years in prison for 47-year-old Hope Joyner Thomas, but Long Beach Superior Court Judge Mark Kim gave her a suspended three-year prison sentence and ordered her to pay restitution of $27,946. “He took into consideration the fact she has a minor child and has no prior criminal record,” Deputy District Attorney Maureen Green said. “The sentence provides no deterrent for this type of crime. It’s a disappointment.” Authorities said Thomas lived with her ex-husband and his sister in a house that the ex-husband owned and for which the sister was receiving a Section 8 rent subsidy. She had helped conceal from housing officials that the landlord and tenant were relatives, investigators said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Thomas, a former Los Angeles County Probation Department employee, was convicted of grand theft in October by a Long Beach Superior Court jury after a three-day trial, officials said. Thomas’ attorney declined Wednesday to comment. Her ex-husband, Allan Thomas, failed to appear for a Van Nuys court hearing on a separate auto fraud case and his whereabouts are unknown, said officials. Allan Thomas also is wanted on an adult fiduciary abuse charge involving a quadriplegic Littlerock woman to whom he portrayed himself as an attorney, sheriff’s investigators said. Allan Thomas’ sister, Geneva Thomas, pleaded guilty earlier this year to grand theft. She was placed on probation, ordered to repay $27,946 in Section 8 subsidies collected from May 2002 to July 2004 for the house on 53rd Street East and barred from the federal Section 8 housing subsidy program, investigators said. Authorities said Joyner Thomas had acted as Allan Thomas’ property agent in a transaction with the Los Angeles County Housing Authority, which administers the Section 8 rental subsidy. Joyner Thomas delivered documents under the business name Benjamin Group LLC and signed her name as “Hope Joyner,” leaving off the Thomas that was on her driver’s license and work identification card, investigators said. Investigators said that arrangement was an attempt to hide the fact that Geneva Thomas was renting from Allan Thomas, with Joyner Thomas as an intermediary. Housing authority workers are trained to check whether the landlord’s last name is the same as any occupant’s, officials said. The federal government in 1998 banned Section 8 payments for rental units owned by relatives because of abuses. Investigators uncovered the Section 8 fraud when sheriff’s detectives served search warrants for the elder-abuse and auto theft and fraud cases on the 53rd Street East house, where Allan Thomas was living. Investigators say Benjamin Group was a business owned by Allan Thomas, which they accuse him of using to defraud an elderly Palmdale man who wanted to open a group home for children. At the 53rd Street East house, deputies found a car Allan Thomas had bought in 1997 but stopped making payments on, a car bought in the elderly man’s name and a stolen car, officials said. Investigators believe Joyner Thomas was living in the house with her ex-husband, whom she said she had divorced 13 years earlier. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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