As the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development Inspector General – Investigations Division, local officials have announced that Walter A. Carman Sr., of DeFuniak Springs, FL., was arrested and convicted of theft of government property. Carman was also charged with Social Security fraud. The theft of government property charge was the result of fraud against the local HUD Section 8 program where some $4,490 was overpaid for rental assistance on the behalf of Carman. Carman pled guilty to the charges and was ordered to make restitution to the local Section 8 program by the federal court. He is now on five years probation.
Walton County Housing Director Tom Baker implemented an agency integrity program about a year ago that directed efforts to identify true family income, employment status, and actual family size of all tenants being assisted by the Section 8 program. Baker says that over $100,000 have been identified as being overpaid to tenants due to inaccurate information being supplied to agency employees about income, family size and employment.
“We have a responsibility to not pay one penny more than is needed to support the low income rental assistance program,” says Baker. “The taxpayers work hard to support this program and it is important that every penny spent can be justified as needed by the recipients. We are here to help any one that is truly in need and will do all we can to supply this safety net for our citizens,” he says.
Currently, some 10 tenants of the local Section 8 program are under federal investigation. Baker says, “we will not tolerate fraud and will expend the needed effort to insure that all is being done to educate our tenants to eliminate fraud and overpayments.”