Monday, July 24, 2017
NEWARK, N.J. – A Newark police officer today admitted conspiring to fraudulently obtain payments under the federal public housing assistance program known as “Section 8,” Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Luis Cancel, 50, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of agreeing with another individual to obtain Section 8 public housing benefits to which they were not entitled.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The Section 8 Program is a federal public housing assistance program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It provides rent subsidies to qualified low-income individuals. HUD provided federal grant money to the Newark Housing Authority (NHA) for the Section 8 Program. Under the NHA’s Section 8 Program, a tenant’s rental assistance was based upon the tenant’s anticipated family gross income. Tenants receiving Section 8 assistance from the NHA had to inform the NHA of all members of the household and the annual household income.
From January 2010 to May 2015, Cancel, then a Newark police officer, lived with another person (Individual 1) who was receiving Section 8 benefits. Cancel and the other individual agreed not to disclose to the NHA that they were living together or that Cancel was a Newark police officer, and, also, a security guard with the Robert Treat Hotel. Individual 1 submitted fraudulent documents to the NHA that failed to disclose these facts. Cancel also submitted letters to the NHA falsely indicating that he lived at a separate residence. Based upon their misrepresentations, Cancel and Individual 1 received approximately $74,000 in Section 8 subsidies to which they were not entitled.
The count to which Cancel pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 6, 2017.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation leading to today’s plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Joseph D. Rotella Esq., Newark