NYC’s Ten Worst Tenants:
The Domestic-Violence Faker

Elizabeth Dwoskin
March 9, 2011

Latonya Malone, 26, worked as a security guard at Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center in Manhattan. A state employee since 2002, she earned a $35,000-a-year salary, so in 2007 she applied for a Section 8 apartment. Victims of domestic violence can point to their dire situations to get Section 8 subsidies, for which there’s a huge waiting list. In support of her application, she included copies of an order of protection issued by the Bronx County Criminal Court and a domestic-violence incident report issued by the New York Police Department. According to Malone’s paperwork, “John Brown had beaten her.”

It turned out that “John Brown” was fictitious and that both the order of protection and the domestic-violence incident report had been forged, according to prosecutors. Last October, Malone admitted to investigators that she had paid $500 to a woman named Cynthia who was selling Section 8 paperwork.

In October 2010, Malone was charged with grand larceny. She allegedly stole $14,000 worth of subsidies. Malone has pled not guilty, and the case is pending.

Over the past year, six women have been arrested for allegedly falsely claiming to be victims of domestic violence in order to obtain public housing or Section 8 housing vouchers. In another case, Chevelle Richardson filled out an application for her 20-year-old daughter, Chandera, that included not only a fabricated domestic-violence incident report and a phony order of protection but also a forged letter from the domestic-violence shelter organization Safe Horizon.

As the government cuts sharply back on its subsidized-housing programs, there may be greater incentive for people to falsify complaints. Because of long waiting lists and budget cuts in the program, the only people who are now permitted to apply for Section 8 subsidies are victims of domestic violence, youngsters who become too old to stay in foster care, and people in witness-protection programs. It’s a crisis for people who would legitimately qualify for public housing: Officials say there are currently 130,000 people on the waiting list.

Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the city’s Department of Investigation, says she finds the domestic-violence fakers to be especially repugnant: “I mean, there are real victims of domestic violence out there,” she tells the Voice.