By Katy Reckdahl, The Times-Picayune
A former Section 8 housing director for the Housing Authority of New Orleans, Dwayne Muhammad, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal theft charge, while his predecessor in the HANO post, Naomi Roberts, has been placed on indefinite leave because of allegations that she concealed her ownership of a Section 8 property.
Muhammad, 37, abruptly resigned from HANO in August after a TV news report alleged that he was using a voucher in his mother’s name to help pay his rent at a house on Western Street in Gentilly.
He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, plus restitution payments and fines. Sentencing in the case is slated for March 10. He is free on bond. Roberts was placed on indefinite leave Tuesday because she’s the target of a separate investigation by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general.
Roberts was suspended without pay “pending the outcome of a HUD IG investigation,” said HANO spokesman Terry Cassreino, who said that he couldn’t comment further on the allegation except to say that administrative receiver David Gilmore thought it was serious enough to warrant the suspension.
A source close to the investigations confirmed Wednesday that Roberts concealed her ownership of a Section 8 property while she was in charge of the program and after she was moved into a deputy director’s post under Muhammad.
The source said the Section 8 payments were made to the Coalition for a Better Community, an organization associated with Roberts’ husband, Lionel Roberts. The payments were for rent at the couple’s property at 2126 N. Villere St. Cassreino declined to comment on the source report.
According to parish property records, on June 13, 2007, around the time questions about Naomi Roberts’ properties surfaced, she and her husband transferred their interest in the North Villere Street house to their son, Joshua Roberts.
On the same day, they did the same thing with a house at 2505 A.P. Tureaud Ave., although it’s unclear whether the Robertses collected Section 8 payments for that property too.
HANO employee guidelines bar any Section 8 participation by any decision-makers in the rental assistance program.
Muhammad was charged in October in a bill of information that said he unlawfully used $45,318 to pay rent, taking advantage of the voucher for more than two years. Muhammad was earning $114,400 as Section 8 director, more than double the income limit for an eight-person household under HUD guidelines, according to the federal bill of information. But his household consisted of no more than four people, the bill said. One of them was his girlfriend, Rachelle Jones, who worked for Mir Fox Rodriguez, a contractor that ran the Disaster Housing Assistance Program and is now running HANO’s Section 8 program.
Information on Riverstone Residential knowingly exposing tenants to extreme amounts of mold toxins at Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
A letter to the NAA regarding an email they deleted without reading – please retract your amicus in the Abad case in Arizona – it is fraud by a political action committee, the National Apartment Association, that is furthering another fraud by another political action committee, the US Chamber of Commerce
Political Action Committee – NAA – files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer