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MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced that a South Hempstead woman was arrested and charged yesterday with allegedly falsely applying for and receiving more than $22,000 of rental assistance benefits from the Nassau County Housing Choice Voucher Program to which she was not entitled.

Melissa Beltre, 42, was arraigned Thursday before Judge Marie McCormack on charges of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony); Welfare Fraud in the Third Degree (a D felony); and three counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree (an E felony). The defendant pleaded not guilty and was released on her own recognizance. She is due back in court on March 20, 2024. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison. 

“Rental assistance benefits are essential to thousands of low-income families, elderly, and disabled citizens in Nassau County to ensure they can afford to live in safe and sanitary housing,” said DA Donnelly. “This defendant allegedly submitted false paperwork to obtain those benefits for herself, while holding several jobs and contributing to her 401K. It is also alleged that the defendant purchased a $585,000 home in South Hempstead while collecting benefits. I thank the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General for their partnership in holding individuals accountable for abusing these public programs.”

“HUD OIG is committed to protecting the integrity of the Housing Choice Voucher Program and bringing to justice those who abuse these programs for personal gain,” said Acting Special Agent-in-Charge William Woolard with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General.  “We will continue to work with the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners to investigate and hold accountable bad actors and protect the programs that HUD beneficiaries rely on.”

DA Donnelly said, according to the charges, on October 23, 2018, the defendant submitted a “County of Nassau Office of Housing and Community Development Applicant/Participant Certification” to the Nassau County Office of Housing, Housing Choice Voucher Program (NCHCVP) claiming to live at an Oceanside address and attested to her weekly income to receive rental benefits. The defendant’s application was approved and benefits for calendar year 2019 were provided.  

In October 2019 and October 2020, the defendant submitted additional certifications, attesting to her weekly income and address in Oceanside, to apply for annual recertification for the NCHCVP benefits. Beltre’s applications were approved, and the benefits disbursed in calendar years 2020 and 2021. 

An investigation by NCDA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (U.S. HUD OIG) revealed the defendant allegedly failed to include financial information on her applications, including nearly $85,000 of income from her employment at several automotive dealerships on Long Island during the period that she was receiving benefits, and her 401K Profit Sharing Plan and Trust 401K, which totaled more than $43,000 by December 2021. 

The investigation also found that the defendant allegedly failed to report the April 2021 purchase of a $585,000 primary residence in South Hempstead until six months later in October 2021, when the defendant submitted a request to exit the benefit program effective November 1, 2021.

Based on the defendant’s financial records and mortgage documents, the defendant would not have qualified for recertification or receipt of the subsidy benefits for calendar years 2019, 2020 and 2021. 

The alleged false submissions filed with NCHCVP caused the defendant to receive benefits of $22,476 between January 2019 and October 2021. 

Beltre was arrested on March 14, 2024, by NCDA Detective Investigators and Special Agents with the U.S. HUD OIG Office of Investigations.

NCDA thanks the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General for their assistance in this prosecution.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Investigative Counsel Kathleen Casey of the Revenue, Auto, Insurance and Labor Crime Bureau. The defendant is represented by Michael DerGarabedian, Esq.

The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.