The landlord of a townhouse community in Bear committed fraud by inflating the cost of low-income units for more than six years, a federal lawsuit alleges.
The United States Attorney’s Office in Delaware filed the civil complaint last week against Goodfish Enterprises LLC and its principal, Christopher Lukacs, who own 94 homes in the Sparrow Run neighborhood, formerly known as Brookmont Farms.
The suit alleges that Goodfish filed fraudulent documents as part of its participation in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as Section 8.
Tenants in the program pay 30 to 40 percent of their income toward rent, and the federal government pays the rest. In order for a landlord to participate in the property, it must charge a “reasonable” rent as compared to similar units in the private market and cannot charge a higher rate for Section 8 units than it does for comparable units whose tenants do not receive government aid.
However, Goodfish frequently charged Section 8 participants higher rents than unassisted tenants and filed fraudulent documents to justify the higher rent, the government allege.
In one instance detailed in the lawsuit, Goodfish charged $1,150 for a Section 8 unit while renting a similar unit for $925 to a tenant not receiving government assistance.
“Time and again, they inflated the rents charged to needy Delawareans and justified these rents with additional false statements, leaving the government to foot the bill,” U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss. “Today’s civil complaint demonstrates that this office will aggressively work to recover public money from those who fraudulently seek to overcharge the federal government.”
According to the suit, Goodfish has received nearly $1 million in federally funded housing assistance payments since 2015.