Admits to stealing $239,000 from the Atlantic City Housing Authority
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP - A Pleasantville man received a five-year prison sentence Friday, Sept. 27 after pleading guilty to stealing $239,000 from the Atlantic City Housing Authority, acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said.
Brian Lewis, 42, of Pleasantville pleaded guilty to five counts, McClain said.
Lewis was originally indicted by an Atlantic County Jury on 26 counts and had pleaded guilty to second-degree official misconduct, second-degree theft, third-degree theft, third-degree filing a fraudulent tax return and third-degree failure to pay state tax, McClain said.
Lewis was accused of stealing $239,000 from the Atlantic City Housing Authority where he worked as an assistant purchasing agent.
In October 2010, the Atlantic City Housing Authority noticed that contractors were paid for work that was not completed and that some of the work was billed up to three times.
Then the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Official Corruption Unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Public Corruption Task Force and the U.S. Department of Labor began their investigation of Lewis.
The investigation revealed that Lewis used his position to access work orders and contract for construction and home repairs for the Stanley Holmes Village in Atlantic City.
Lewis created fraudulent shell companies and billed the Atlantic City Housing Authority for the work which had already been completed by legitimate companies. He then collected duplicate payments.
The investigation also revealed that Lewis used his position to award his own fraudulent businesses contracts for construction and repair work. He was paid for the work even though he never performed the jobs.
Over 16 months, Lewis created five fraudulent businesses and defrauded the Housing Authority and the taxpayers of more than $239,000 according to Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office’s acting First Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton.
Investigators also learned that Lewis collected Lewis collected unemployment benefits from 2006-08 while he was a full-time employee at the Atlantic City Housing Authority. He was charged with fraudulently collecting more than $13,000 in unemployment benefits.
On May 1, 2012, Lewis turned himself into the Prosecutor’s Office where he was processed and released on his own recognizance.
Lewis was indicted on three counts of official misconduct, five counts of theft, five counts of filing a false claim for payment of a government contract, five counts of fraudulently transacting business while acting as a public servant, one count of unsworn falsification to authorities, and an additional count of theft by deception for unemployment fraud on Feb. 21.
Additionally, Lewis and his wife, Shellie Williams, 40, were both indicted on three counts of filing fraudulent tax returns and three counts of failure to pay state taxes.
Lewis and Williams were charged with the tax offenses as a result of a thorough investigation into the couples’ finances by the New Jersey Department of Treasury - Office of Criminal Investigations. The investigation concluded that the couple failed to pay more than $36,600 in state taxes by not reporting the money they fraudulently received.
The charges against Shellie Williams were dismissed upon amended tax returns being filed.
In accordance with the plea agreement, Lewis was sentenced to five years in state prison and must serve four years before he is eligible for parole.
Lewis was banned from working in public employment again.
Following sentencing, Lewis was remanded into custody.
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