Former minimal-money housing govt sentenced to jail for embezzling approximately $7 million | USAO-WDWA

Tacoma – A former Pierce County Housing Authority executive was sentenced today in U.S. District Court docket in Tacoma to 51 months in prison for wire fraud in link with her scheme to steal virtually $7 million, introduced Acting U.S. Lawyer Tessa M. Gorman. Cova Campbell pleaded responsible in January 2021, admitting that between March 2016 and July 2019, she used a assortment of techniques to divert $6.9 million in community money to her own bank accounts.  At the sentencing listening to U.S. District Choose Robert J. Bryan purchased Campbell into custody right away, and explained “There is a significant question about your remorse… On one level you have been a remarkably qualified community servant, but you had a darkish facet that authorized you to shed your ethical compass.”

“At a time when housing assets in our community are in traditionally significant demand, this defendant stole from the poor and vulnerable who most needed help,” explained U.S. Attorney’s Office Felony Main Sarah Vogel.  “Her greed intended there have been considerably less resources for the elderly, the disabled, the veterans, and the kids in Pierce County who count on the Housing Authority to deliver safe and safe shelter.”

According to data filed in the circumstance, Campbell was a 20-year trustworthy employee of the Pierce County Housing Authority, and repeatedly betrayed that believe in over a 3-12 months time period.  Campbell initiated wire transfers of as a great deal as $500,000 from Pierce County Housing Authority accounts to her own bank accounts.  A single of the transfers was in link with the purchase of land in Oklahoma.  Campbell also well prepared and submitted false invoices to PCHA and made them seem they had been from an outdoors vendor.  PCHA compensated the invoices, and the cash went into Campbell’s financial institution accounts.  Campbell protected up her fraud by labeling these fraudulent charges as “investments,” “insurance,” or “maintenance” in the PCHA accounting records.

In accordance to the plea agreement, Campbell made use of the money to shell out for land and advancements to that property in Oklahoma, for improvements to her household in Lakewood, Washington, and for vacation which includes outings to Las Vegas and the chartering of a personal jet.  She utilized some of the money for the purchase of two cars.  She also diverted big quantities of the money for gambling and web gaming.

The Washington Condition Auditor’s Office environment uncovered the fiscal irregularities, and Campbell’s employment was terminated by the Housing Authority on August 8, 2019.

Campbell was arrested in March 2020 in Redbird, Oklahoma.

In inquiring for a 5-yr prison sentence, prosecutors noted that Campbell had abused her placement of believe in, and even brought her co-staff below suspicion.  “Then, as soon as it grew to become obvious that Ms. Campbell acted on your own, the personnel felt blame and disgrace for failing to stop their boss’s legal acts…. This funds was meant to broaden and make improvements to housing choices in our neighborhood.… The criminal offense was a devastating theft from susceptible citizens of Pierce County based on greed,” Assistant United States Attorney Brian Werner wrote in his sentencing memo.

A person of the Commissioners of the Housing Authority Board spoke at the hearing expressing, “The fraud limits the capacity of the authority to aid the community.”  Commissioner Mark Martinez also claimed Campbell experienced not discussed what took place to about 60 percent of the stolen revenue and experienced turned over few assets voluntarily, forcing the Housing Authority to shell out time and money hoping to get all those assets by way of civil litigation.

Thanks to some of the quantities recovered in the civil litigation, the volume of restitution Campbell even now owes is $5,299,976. 

The circumstance was investigated by the FBI and HUD-OIG.  The circumstance was prosecuted by Assistant United States Lawyer Brian Werner.

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