CAMDEN, N.J. – (RealEstateRama) — The former executive director of the Ocean City, New Jersey, Housing Authority (OCHA) was sentenced today to three years of probation for embezzling federal funds received by authority from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Alesia Watson, 54, of Galloway Township, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams to an information charging her with one count of embezzling federal funds received from HUD and administered by OCHA to which she was not entitled. Judge Williams imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
As executive director, Watson had access to two credit cards maintained by OCHA. From December 2013 through March 2015, Watson purchased 69 MasterCard gift cards using these two OCHA credit cards. She used the gift cards for personal expenses not associated with OCHA or provided them to friends and family members. Watson then used federal funds received from HUD and administered by OCHA to pay the credit card bills associated with the purchase of the gift cards. According to the plea agreement, the loss associated with the embezzlement was more than $6,500 but less than $15,000.
Watson was also ordered to pay restitution of $8,050.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, and special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mark McKevitt, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Deputy Attorney-in-Charge Matthew J. Skahill of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.
Defense counsel: John J. Zarych Esq., Northfield, New Jersey