Former apartment manager receives 10-month sentence for accepting bribes She offered to bypass waiting list for housing

May 23, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A former West Baltimore apartment manager who exploited the shortage of subsidized housing by collecting bribes from people wanting to bypass a two-year waiting list was given a 10-month sentence yesterday.

Dorothy Y. Budd accepted $22,500 in bribes from 1993 to 1996 from about 15 tenants seeking apartments at the Poppleton Cooperative, a 96-unit federally subsidized development at 838 W. Fairmount Ave.

Budd, 46, who was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, took advantage of a shortage of subsidized housing that has forced some city residents to wait as long as 15 years to receive Section 8 vouchers.

The vouchers provide federal subsidies for the tenants' rent.

"The problem is monumental," said Stan Vosper, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "For every person who gets housing assistance, there are four to five others who don't. In New York City alone, over 100,000 people are on the waiting list."

A HUD study released last month said that in Baltimore, 25,000 people have "acute housing needs" requiring housing assistance.

Budd typically took $1,500 as a bribe from prospective tenants seeking to circumvent the waiting list at the Poppleton, which is subsidized by HUD's Section 8 program.

The prospective tenant would usually be told that the waiting list was at least two years, but Budd would sometimes offer that "for $1,500, you could move in right away," court papers said.

In October 1996, Budd accepted a $1,500 bribe from a woman named Joanne Johnson, an undercover federal agent. The FBI had caught on to the scheme and sent the agent to Budd posing as a housing applicant.

Budd later admitted accepting the payments and pleaded guilty to a charge of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Agents who manage Section 8 properties are required to give preference to applicants who are homeless or live in substandard housing and pay more than half their income in rent.

Budd told authorities she used the money to pay for personal expenses, rental payments and bills, according to a statement presented in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan M. Ringler.

Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Budd to five months in a detention facility or halfway house and five months of home detention, followed by 75 hours of community service.

Federal housing authorities recently said that the lack of affordable rental housing is a crisis.

The HUD report released last month found that more than 5 million households of limited means cannot secure adequate shelter or are spending far too much money to secure it.

Pub Date: 5/23/98

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