TAMPA — A rent collector for the Pinellas County Housing Authority stole $23,126 on duty, the federal government charged Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
Keomala Phandara Khammanivong, 32, worked at the French Villas public housing complex from 2008 to 2012, a court record states. French Villas is a 185-unit complex along 54th Avenue N in the Lealman area of Pinellas County.
Known to coworkers as "La," she interviewed tenants, fielded complaints, entered work orders, collected rent and made bank deposits.
She was fired when banking records turned up irregularities, Housing Authority executive director Debra Johnson said. The agency referred the matter to the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"We have been waiting for this," Johnson said of the federal charge. "We were aggressive in turning this over to be pursued. We are truly committed to protecting our federal funds."
The theft is alleged to have occurred between 2011 and 2012. Johnson said the agency has put internal controls in place to prevent it happening again.
Khammanivong, who records show has no prior criminal record in Florida, could not be reached for comment.
Charges were filed in federal court because the Housing Authority received at least $10,000 a year from the federal government in 2011 and 2012.
News researcher John Martin contributed to this report.