- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Federal prosecutors have filed bribery charges against an Omaha landlord and his secretary, alleging that they made or tried to make illegal payments to two employees of the city’s public housing agency in exchange for steering prospective tenants to them and burying complaints against them.

Lafi Jafari and MaryLou Gruttemeyer were indicted in U.S. District Court on Tuesday on conspiracy to commit bribery and six counts of paying a bribe to an Omaha Housing Authority agent. Jafari was also indicted on one count of making false statements to special agents, the Omaha World-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/2gnR8VG ).

Online records don’t list attorneys for either defendant.

Prosecutors said Jafari and Gruttemeyer bribed or offered to bribe OHA employees to steer prospective tenants their way and to not refer complaints against them to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.

The housing authority employees weren’t named in the indictment, which said there was a total of $2,100 in payments made. The housing authority’s interim executive director, Judith Carlin, said authority officials “cooperated fully with the OIG on the investigation.”

According to prosecutors, Jafari and Gruttemeyer’s low-income tenants receive Section 8 rent subsidies from the housing authority. Between 2012 and 2014, Jafari or his business received over $600,000 from OHA via HUD. The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that that was the time period the bribes were paid.

Both the landlord and secretary were not arrested because the attorney’s office did not consider them to be a danger or flight risk. Instead, they have been summoned to court with their initial appearance Dec. 14. If convicted on the conspiracy count, they both could face a maximum of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The bribery counts could mean a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each count.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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