NHA CIO admits embezzling funds to buy thousands of electronic devices | USAO-NJ

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NEWARK, NJ – The former director of information technology for the Newark Housing Authority (NHA) has admitted to using his position to embezzle NHA funds to buy cell phones and other electronic devices, a announced US attorney Philip R. Sellinger.

Venancio Diaz, 56, of Jersey City, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti in federal court in Newark on March 30, 2022, to a report accusing him of robbing an agency receiving federal funds.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From December 2013 to August 10, 2021, Diaz purchased, on behalf of the NHA and using NHA funds, 1,509 electronic devices, primarily cell phones and tablets, from a telecommunications company. Diaz then arranged for these devices to be activated on NHA’s account on the company network for a short period of time – often only days or weeks. After the brief activation period ended, Diaz impersonated the owner of the devices and sold them to two different online electronics resale marketplaces. Diaz directed all proceeds from the sales – a total of $594,425 – to his own bank accounts and kept the money for his personal use.

The head of theft from an agency receiving federal funds faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a potential maximum fine of $250,000 or double the gross amount of pecuniary gain any person made from violation, whichever is greater. Judgment is scheduled for August 4, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited Special Agents with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, under Special Agent in Charge Christina D. Scaringi in Newark; and FBI Special Agents, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the IRS-Criminal Investigations for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara F. Merin of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

Defense Attorney: Joel Silberman Esq., Jersey City

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