A San Francisco man has been indicted on federal fraud charges for a scheme in which he allegedly received Section 8 housing payments for years while concealing his actual income from the feds.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that 63-year-old Gregory Finkelson has been indicted by a grand jury for conspiracy, theft of government property, and money laundering. Finkelson is alleged to have $341,455 in Section 8 rental housing funds over 14 years — funds distributed by the federal government to landlords to subsidize housing for low-income people.
In order to receive the Section 8 funds, prosecutors say, Finkelson claimed to only be making $12,000 a year as a notary public at a company called American Corporate Services (ACS), when in fact a quick web search easily shows us that Finkelson is in fact president of that company. Prosecutors say the company's gross income was $2.8 million per year between 2013 and 2018. Finkelson is alleged to have collected the Section 8 payments between 2006 and 2020.
ACS appears to deal in immigration law, consulting with investors trying to immigrate to the U.S. under the EB-5 visa program, which gives legal residency status to foreigners seeking to establish businesses here with at least 10 jobs being created.
There was also apparently a co-conspirator involved, in Russia. According to the indictment, the co-conspirator helped Finkelson hide the fact that he owned the building in which he lived — he had reportedly subdivided a single-family home in San Francisco into three units, one of which he lived in. Another unit served as the office of ACS, and the other was rented out.
Section 8 funds are typically direct-deposited into the account of a landlord, and participating families then make up any difference in their rent.
"Finkelson caused rent payments from all three units to be funneled into accounts that he controlled, and Finkelson paid personal expenses out of those accounts using rental income," the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California says. Among those personal expenses, prosecutors say, were payments on a timeshare in Maui — using funds "designed to help low- and moderate-income families rent decent housing."
The investigation into Finkelson's dealings was a joint effort between the FBI, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Internal Revenue Service.
Finkelson has been charged with conspiracy, theft of government property, and three counts of money laundering.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as fines totaling $1 million, and restitution.