BECKLEY, W.Va. – Laquenta Lowe, 46, of Beckley, was sentenced today to five years of federal probation and ordered to pay $8,954.76 in restitution for conversion of public money exceeding $1,000. Lowe admitted to stealing at least $7,978.91 in federal funds while employed by the Raleigh County Housing Authority (RCHA).
According to court documents and statements made in court, Lowe was chief financial officer and accountant for the RCHA from July 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019. Lowe was executive director of the RCHA from June 1, 2019, through April 30, 2021. During this time, RCHA administered programs that used federal funds including the Section 8 income-based rent subsidy program. RCHA kept the federal funds it received from the United States Department and Urban Development (HUD) in RCHA’s primary operating account at a West Virginia bank.
Lowe used her positions at RCHA to steal at least $7,978.91 in federal funds that HUD had disbursed to RCHA and knowingly converted the funds to her personal use and without authorization. Lowe admitted to receiving at least $6,728.82 of that amount in overtime compensation that she should not have received. Lowe further admitted to receiving at least $660.68 in travel-related expenses reimbursements that she should not have received for RCHA-related travel. Lowe also admitted to using a RCHA credit card issued to her to purchase a $199.99 smart watch for her personal use and without authorization.
“Laquenta Lowe abused a position of trust and stole from a program that provides critical services to some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “Our office is committed to prosecuting fraud of this nature to the fullest extent possible.”
Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of Inspector General (HUD OIG), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office (WVSAO) Public Integrity and Fraud Unit (PIFU).
"HUD OIG is committed to protecting the integrity of federal housing programs and bringing justice to those who abuse HUD programs for personal gain," said Special Agent in Charge Shawn Rice with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and hold accountable bad actors and protect the programs that HUD beneficiaries rely on."
United States District Judge Frank W. Volk imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan Blackwell and Kristin Scott prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:23-cr-7.