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A former Tampa housing counselor is sentenced in scam

TAMPA — A former football player at the University of Florida was sentenced to two years in federal prison Thursday for his part in a scheme to steal more than $100,000 in federal grant money given to the Tampa Housing Authority.

Carlton Miles, 38, pleaded guilty in February to charges of conspiracy to steal government funds and public corruption. He and two other former Housing Authority Section 8 counselors were charged with using bogus landlords to embezzle Housing and Urban Development Department grant money.

"This is a scam that hurts all of us. It hurts the community," U.S. District Judge Susan C. Bucklew told Miles. "Shame on you."

Bucklew also ordered that Miles help pay more than $140,000 in restitution.

Miles apologized in court to the community for what he had done. He said he was experiencing financial difficulties, with child support payments and a fiancee at home on bed rest. He could no longer afford his own rent, he said.

"I decided to make a very horrific decision instead of relying on my faith and God to make a way out of it," Miles said.

Bucklew asked Miles to explain the mission of the Housing Authority, which exists to help people unable to afford housing find a place to live.

The other two former Section 8 counselors charged with Miles were Calvin Coleman and Mario Lovett. Both men have pleaded guilty. Lovett has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Coleman is awaiting sentencing.

The men recruited friends and relatives to pose as landlords for the agency's Housing Assistance Payments program. They had the ability to put names of landlords into the Housing Authority's database so those individuals would receive checks subsidizing the rents of fake tenants. Miles, Coleman and Lovett then took kickbacks.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cherie Krigsman said Miles' cooperation with investigators led to Coleman's guilty plea. Prosecutors have said that Coleman was the first Housing Authority employee to set up the scheme, and that he took more money than anyone else.

Miles only mimicked what he saw Coleman already doing, said Howard Anderson, Miles' public defender.

Anderson asked Bucklew to show leniency toward Miles, referring the judge to Miles' successful football career while attending the University of Florida and his otherwise spotless criminal record.

"We expect more of you," Bucklew told Miles, as she commented on his successes. "People look up to you."

Kevin Graham can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com.

A former Tampa housing counselor is sentenced in scam 06/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 10:39am]
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