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Marietta employees sentenced for Section 8 fraud | Crime

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Marietta employees sentenced for Section 8 fraud
Crime, Real Estate
Marietta employees sentenced for Section 8 fraud

MARIETTA, Ga. -- Two former City of Marietta employees are among four people charged with stealing from the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program.

The program, also known as Section 8, helps low-income families pay their rent. Shantel Bowens and Debbie Bailey worked for Marietta's Housing Choice Voucher Program, which oversees local tenant and landlord participation.

Bowens and Bailey pleaded guilty in July and May, respectively, to conspiring with two landlords to steal money from the program.

According to federal prosecutors, Bowens, 43, of Atlanta, reactivated the closed accounts of former Section 8 tenants. She then altered computer records to link the tenants to two co-defendants, landlords Babatunde "Babs" Abass and Tunji "Chris" Imoukhuede.

Abass and Imoukhuede received fraudulent Section 8 payments for the nonexistent tenants. Prosecutors said they kept 40 percent of the money and gave the remaining 60 percent to Bailey, 41, of Rome, who then split it with Bowens.

Between January 2011 and June 2013, the defendants netted more than $230,000 from their scheme. U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Bowens also falsified computer records to send a monthly rental subsidy to her own landlord, which allowed her to live rent-free in a Section 8 property for more than three years. More than $40,000 in Section 8 money was spent on Bowens' housing.

Bowens was sentenced to two years and two months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. She must also pay more than $275,000 in restitution. Bailey was sentenced to one year and two months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and must pay nearly $235,000 in restitution.

Abass, 48, of Mableton, also pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Abass must pay $80,349 in restitution.

Imoukhuede was arraigned earlier this month.

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