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Hanover landlord pleads guilty to witness tampering in federal case

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HARRISBURG — A 49-year-old Hanover man was sentenced to two years of probation and five months of home confinement and ordered to pay a $55,000 fine and other penalties worth $171,831 after pleading guilty to witness tampering in federal court, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

David K. Shaqfeh was accused of encouraging a witness to provide false statements about supplemental rent payments Shaqfeh received in 2014 and 2015 for a Housing and Urban Development subsidized property in Levittown.

Shaqfeh’s $171,831 payment was to settle a False Claims Act violation. He was accused of acting as a landlord in the Housing Choice Voucher Program and receiving unauthorized side payments from a HCVP participant over and above the authorized rent.

HCVP is a program whereby the HUD provides rental subsidies for eligible low-income tenants who locate acceptable rental units on the private market.

The settlement agreement resolved allegations that Shaqfeh submitted a request for tenancy approval to HUD for a HCVP tenant, which was not approved because the rent exceeded the maximum initial rent burden under HUD guidelines. Thereafter, Shaqfeh submitted another request for tenancy approval to HUD for the same HCVP participant with a lower rent amount, which was approved by HUD.

However, Shaqfeh continued to collect additional side payments from the HCVP participant to make up for the lower lease amount. HUD’s payments to Shaqfeh were contingent upon his certification that he would only charge the amount of rent approved by HUD and not receive additional rent payments from the HCVP participant.

Additionally, HUD would not have paid Shaqfeh on two other HUD contracts had it known he was charging an HCVP participant additional rent on another HUD contract. Shaqfeh has paid $171,831 to resolve allegations that he violated the False Claims Act.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Kim Douglas Daniel and Melissa Swauger prosecuted the case.