LES Housing Scam Suspect Splurged on Florida Vacation
By Dave Goldiner
MANHATTAN — Four Manhattan tenants were charged with scamming the city out of more than $200,000 in housing subsidies — and one blew the cash on a Florida vacation and shopping sprees, officials said Thursday.
The tenants allegedly ripped off the city's Department of Housing, Preservation and Development by looting tenants association funds and scamming the Section 8 housing subsidy program earmarked for poor New Yorkers.
"Housing fraud wastes and depletes the limited public money available to help disadvantaged New Yorkers," said city Department of Investigation commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.
Renee Hernandez, 52, the former president of a tenants association for a building at 244-246 Elizabeth Street on the Lower East Side, allegedly stole $97,000 from the group's account. She spent much of the money on shopping sprees and a stay at a Florida resort, officials said.
Eliza Chan, 32, allegedly stole $76,000 from the government over six years beginning in 2003 by falsely claiming that her elderly mother lived in her apartment on Second Avenue, near E. 27th Street, allowing them to qualify for Section 8 benefits.
Another tenant, Belkis Delacruz, 40, covered up nearly $450,000 in income over six years, but continued to collect housing subsidies worth more than $32,000, authorities said.
And Jose Nunez, 57, allegedly collected more than $23,000 in Section 8 funding, even though he moved out of his apartment on W. 178th St. in Washington Heights.
The tenants, along with two others from The Bronx and one from Queens, were hit with felony fraud and grand larceny charges, DOI said.