Federal prosecutors have charged a Baltimore woman with one count of theft from a property management and development company in what they allege was a yearslong defrauding scheme that diverted renters’ funds to her personal bank account.
In a Thursday indictment, prosecutors claim April Pritchett, 37, worked as a property manager for a Delaware-based company in College Park, overseeing two adjoining buildings there. From about May 6, 2016, to Aug. 31, 2019, prosecutors allege, Pritchett redirected rent payments to herself for personal use by altering the payee field of renters’ payments to reflect her own name (or similar names) and depositing them into her personal bank account.
During this time, the company received more than $20 million in subsidies through Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 contracts, according to the indictment. The subsidies can help low-income earners afford decent, safe and sanitary housing that otherwise might not be available to them.
In total, prosecutors allege that Pritchett made hundreds of deposits into her account, exceeding $95,000. She then used the payments to fund international vacations, plastic surgery and clothing purchases, among other things, prosecutors claim.
According to the indictment, she concealed the scheme by making false statements to the company — identified only as “Company A” — over email to explain the mounting rent delinquencies. She also sent reports to the management offices in Delaware falsely representing that repayment agreements had been entered into with “delinquent” tenants; claimed that landlord-tenants proceedings had begun for those she claimed had failed to pay rent; and falsified entries in the online tenant management system.
“The defendant is charged with abusing the trust of her employer and the tenants who entrusted her with their rent payments by diverting those funds for her personal use," said David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, in a statement. "My office is committed to prosecuting those who defraud Delaware businesses, particularly when those businesses are themselves partially funded with taxpayer dollars designed to assist low-income citizens in securing housing.”
Pritchett could not be immediately reached for comment.
She is charged with Theft from a Program Receiving Federal Funds. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.