The United States government has filed a civil suit against Goodfish Enterprises, LLC and its principal, Christopher Lukacs, for allegedly inflating rents for tenants using Section 8 vouchers.
The action was filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington.
The suit alleges that Goodfish and Lukacs violated the False Claims Act in connection with their participation in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly known as “Section 8.”
Section 8 is the federal government’s primary program for helping low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to get affordable housing in the private market.
Goodfish and Lukacs own more than 90 properties in the Sparrow Run (formerly Brookmont Farms) townhouse development in Bear, off Route 40.
According to the filing, the townhouses are leased to low-income residents who receive rental assistance from the federal government through the voucher program.
Since July 2015, Goodfish has received more than $950,000 in federally funded housing assistance payments.
Regulations require program participants to certify that they are not charging a higher rent to tenants who receive assistance through the HCVP than they charge unassisted tenants in comparable housing units.
The United States alleges that Goodfish and Lukacs frequently charged HCVP participants higher rents than unassisted tenants. The suit alleges that Goodfish and Lukacs repeatedly provided false information on HCVP forms regarding the rents they received from unassisted tenants to justify the rents they sought to charge.
“When federal taxpayer money is used to provide housing assistance for low-income Delaware residents, the government must ensure that the money is well spent and that the rent being charged is appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney David Weiss. “Every month for at least six years, Goodfish and Lukacs falsely certified that the rents they charged Section 8 tenants were no higher than the rents for unassisted tenants. 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. 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.”
A request was sent to Goodfish seeking comment.
This matter was investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dylan J. Steinberg is handling the investigation and litigation.
(See copy of lawsuit below).