JOSIE ALMONTE Convicted of Scamming Victims Out of More Than $77,000

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the conviction of JOSIE ALMONTE, 33, for perpetrating a large-scale real estate fraud scheme that targeted sixteen victims. On March 9, 2011, a jury in New York State Supreme Court found the defendant guilty of 28 counts of Grand Larceny, Scheme to Defraud, and Criminal Impersonation.

“The defendant launched her scheme to defraud vulnerable, low-income families in the middle of a nationwide economic and housing crisis,” said District Attorney Vance. “JOSIE ALMONTE preyed upon individuals who obtained or were seeking federal housing assistance, gained their trust and then stole their money. I would like to commend the jury for recognizing the depth of her deception in pursuit of her personal financial gain.”

As proven at trial, ALMONTE falsely represented herself as a real estate agent to sixteen victims. In some cases, she handed out business cards that stated she was a real estate representative for “Empire Home Sales.” In 2008, ALMONTE briefly worked as a Spanish translator for an agent who worked with Empire Home Sales, but she was never issued a business card by that company. ALMONTE also accepted cash deposits ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 from some of her victims, and promised them placement in the Section 8 federal housing program, which provides rent subsidies for eligible low-income families. Nearly all of these victims had Section 8 housing vouchers that were close to their expiration date, so they were in desperate need of housing.

In some cases, ALMONTE showed rental properties in Manhattan and the Bronx to victims, even though she was not authorized to show them. She even signed leases with the victims and handed out keys to apartments. In other instances, ALMONTE issued receipts to victims for deposits that they made to her. In the process, the victims gave ALMONTE personal, confidential information, including their Section 8 paperwork and vouchers. ALMONTE’S victims were primarily from the Dominican community in Northern Manhattan.

Several victims contacted the New York City Housing Authority after they reached out to the defendant but did not hear back. They discovered then that they did not have pending applications for Section 8 housing. When confronted by some victims, ALMONTE wrote checks to assuage their demands, but all the checks bounced.

ALMONTE is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24, 2011.

Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, who received complaints from some of ALMONTE’s victims and referred them to the District Attorney’s Office, said: “I congratulate District Attorney Vance on successful prosecution of Almonte, who was found to have defrauded vulnerable, low-income families by pretending to sell them Section 8 housing vouchers. My office worked hard to expose Almonte’s crimes after being contacted by sixteen individuals who, as a result of Ms. Almonte’s fraud, faced eviction or the expiration of their leases and vouchers, not to mention the loss of thousands of dollars in personal savings. Fraud and criminal scams such as this are a pervasive threat, especially with immigrant and low-income communities. We must continue to do everything we can to protect people from this type of exploitation.”

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John B. Rhea said: “The New York City Housing Authority applauds the efforts of one of its key partners the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in assisting in keeping fraud and corruption out of public housing and its Section 8 program. This conviction will serve as a warning to all that such dishonest financial activity against Section 8 applicants will not be tolerated.”

District Attorney Vance thanked Assistant District Attorneys Sarah Ritch and Andrew Weinstein, who prosecuted the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Eugene Porcaro, Chief of Trial Bureau 30, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Karen Friedman Agnifilo, Chief of the Trial Division. Trial Preparation Assistants Karen Haydock and Alissa Gretina also assisted with this case.



Defendant Information:

JOSIE ALMONTE, D.O.B. 6/3/1977
Bronx, New York

Charges:

* Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 11 counts
* Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, one count
* Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count
* Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 15 counts

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