A real estate developer and a former City of Worcester housing official were charged in U.S. District Court in Worcester this week in connection with a $2.3 million fraud scheme relating to the redevelopment of a multi-family property in Worcester.
James E. Levin, 57, of Natick, a real estate developer and attorney, and Jacklyn M. Sutcivni, 43, of Dracut, a former employee of the City of Worcester’s Housing Development Office and Executive Office of Economic Development, were indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States and false claims. Levin was arrested Thursday and released on conditions. Sutcivni appeared in court on Friday and was also released on conditions.
As alleged in court documents, from July 2010 to September 2011, Levin submitted fraudulent payment requests to the City of Worcester for funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to purportedly rehabilitate a multi-unit apartment building at 5 May Street in Worcester. Specifically, Levin, as the manager of 5 May Street Apartments, LLC, applied for and obtained federal funds from HUD, through the City of Worcester, to rehabilitate the building. Since the City of Worcester distributes grant funds on behalf of HUD and Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Levin submitted seven payment requests to the City for work he fraudulently claimed he completed on the building and associated costs. Sutcivni, in her job in the City of Worcester’s Housing Development Office, approved the payment requests submitted by Levin although she knew the requests were fraudulent. It is alleged that this caused the City of Worcester to pay approximately $2,365,050 to Levin. After the City issued the payment, Sutcivni or other City officials submitted reimbursement requests to HUD or DHCD for HUD funds.
The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud each provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States provides for a sentence of no greater than10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of submission of false claims provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The indictment also seeks monetary forfeiture in the amount of $2,365,050. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.