United States Brings Federal False Claims Act Suit Against Newark Landlord
WILMINGTON, Del (STL.News) U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss announced today that the United States filed a civil complaint against Goodfish Enterprises, LLC and its principal, Christopher Lukacs, in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The United States alleges that Goodfish and Lukacs violated the False Claims Act in connection with their participation in Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), commonly known as “Section 8.” The HCVP is the federal government’s primary program for helping low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.
Goodfish and Lukacs own more than 90 properties in the Sparrow Run housing development in Newark, Delaware, many of which are leased to low-income residents who receive rental assistance from the federal government through the HCVP. Since July 2015, they have received more than $950,000 in federally funded housing assistance payments.
HCVP regulations require program participants to certify that they are not charging a higher rent to tenants who receive assistance through the HCVP than they charge unassisted tenants in comparable housing units. The United States alleges that Goodfish and Lukacs frequently charged HCVP participants higher rents than unassisted tenants. As a result, the United States alleges these required certifications were false and fraudulent. In addition, the United States alleges that Goodfish and Lukacs repeatedly provided false information on HCVP forms regarding the rents they received from unassisted tenants to justify the inflated rents they sought to charge for HCVP rentals.
“When federal taxpayer money is used to provide housing assistance for low-income Delaware residents, the government must ensure that the money is well spent and that the rent being charged is appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Weiss. “Every month for at least six years, Goodfish and Lukacs falsely certified that the rents they charged Section 8 tenants were no higher than the rents for unassisted tenants. Time and again, they inflated the rents charged to needy Delawareans and justified these rents with additional false statements, leaving the government to foot the bill. Today’s civil complaint demonstrates that this office will aggressively work to recover public money from those who fraudulently seek to overcharge the federal government.”
This matter was investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General. The investigation and litigation are being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dylan J. Steinberg.
The complaint contains allegations only, and not findings of liability.