July 8, 2004 – LAWFUEL – A former correctional officer with the California Youth Authority has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge for abusing a federal program that gives substantial benefits to law enforcement officers who agree to move into low-income and high-crime neighborhoods.
James Derrick Stewart, 40, of Corona, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of making false statements to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In documents filed today in federal court in Los Angeles, Stewart admits he purchased a Rialto house through HUD’s Officer-Next-Door Program and rented it to another person. The Officer-Next-Door Program, which gave Stewart a 50 percent discount on the price of the North Arcadia Avenue residence because he was employed by the California Youth Authority, requires the purchasing law enforcement officer to reside in the home for at least three years. In order to monitor compliance with the requirements of the Officer-Next-Door Program, HUD requires the law enforcement officer to annually submit documents, such as utility bills, demonstrating that he or she in fact resides at the property.
Stewart purchased the Rialto home on or about August 30, 1999, and he received a $50,000 discount for participating in the Officer-Next-Door Program. But Stewart never resided at the property.
On or about February 21, 2000, Stewart rented the property to a tenant, and two days later Stewart submitted to HUD his annual certification stating that he resided at the Officer-Next-Door property.
Stewart will be summoned to appear on July 26 for an arraignment in United States District Court. The charge of making false statements carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in federal prison. In his plea agreement, Stewart has agreed to make full restitution to the government prior to his sentencing.
This case is part of an ongoing investigation by the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.