Former Marietta employees accused of stealing from Section 8 program

by: Rachel Stockman Updated:

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MARIETTA, Ga. - Two former City of Marietta employees are facing federal charges, accused of embezzling money meant for lower-income families who qualify for Section 8 housing vouchers.
 
Former employees Debbie Bailey Brown and Shantel Bowens are facing federal conspiracy charges accused of stealing more than $230,000 worth of federal HUD voucher payments, according to federal prosecutors.
 
According to an indictment filed by the U.S Attorney’s Office in the Northern District, the two employees worked in conjunction with landlords Tunji Imoukhuede and Simiyu Abagun, who are also facing federal charges.
 
According to federal prosecutors, Bowens and Brown identified former HUD clients who had been terminated from the program and they reactivated their participation in the program and would direct rental assistance payments to the landlords.
 
The landlords would split up the fraudulent funds among themselves and the two employees, according to the indictment.
 
The City of Marietta released a statement that read, “These indictments are the result of an investigation sparked by the due diligence of Housing Director, Daphne Bradwell and the City’s Internal Auditor, Jim Curtis in conjunction with the Marietta Police Department. 
 
“During two independent routine audits, Ms. Bradwell and Mr. Curtis both noticed a potential irregularity in program disbursements to local landlords.  The matter was promptly referred to Marietta Police Department Investigators who discovered additional similar incidents involving the two former employees. 
 
“The investigation uncovered possible theft of federal funds which led Marietta Police investigators to coordinate with HUD’s Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia,
 
“Bowens, worked for 13 years at the City of Marietta’s Department of Development Services which administers the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) program, known as Section 8 Housing. Brown worked for the City, for less than nine years.”
 
“We always deeply regret the theft of public funds, but I am grateful that we have highly qualified City employees, whom we can count on to alert us to issues such as these,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin in a statement emailed to Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
 
Channel 2 Action News was unable to reach the former employees for comment.



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