Housing Official Took Bribes Instead Of Helping Poor People

Kathryn Watson | Reporter

A Connecticut housing official will spend four years behind prison bars after pleading guilty to taking $1.5 million in bribes while he was supposed to be using federal tax dollars to help low-income families.

Michael Siwek — former executive director of the West Haven Housing Authority in Connecticut — awarded federally funded contracts to businesses for housing authority projects in exchange for bribes for five years before he was caught.

Siwek was convicted on one count of conspiring to commit bribery, one count of bribery and one count of tax evasion, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which announced his sentencing Monday. He had pled guilty in September 2014 to accepting the bribes between 2007 and 2012.

Siwek will also spend three years under supervised release after his four years in prison, and must repay $363,000 in interest, plus the $1.5 million he took in bribes.

As executive director of a local housing authority, Siwek was responsible for using federal funds to help low-income families who need a stable place to live while they get back on their feet. The DOJ did not say when — or under what circumstances — Siwek’s role as executive director ended. (RELATED: Local Housing Authority Squandered $2 Million, ‘Falsified’ Documents)

Siwek owned Four Star Development Company, LLC, a company contractors used to pay Siwek bribes. Andrew Ross, Siwek’s contractor accomplice who paid him nearly $350,000 in bribes, was sentenced in February to one year in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery, according to the DOJ.

Siwek awarded contracts to specific companies instead of using the required competitive bidding process, according to federal court documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The DOJ did not say what other businesses or individuals paid Siwek bribes.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses federal tax dollars to fund thousands of local housing authorities across the country.

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Tags : department of housing and urban development
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