Springfield Property Manager Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Lead Inspection Reports
SPRINGFIELD — A Springfield property manager has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to five years probation in connection with submitting two falsified lead inspection reports, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Dwayne Johnson, 46, of Springfield, pleaded guilty in Hampden Superior Court to two counts of Uttering False or Forged Records. He was indicted by a Hampden County Grand Jury in November 2014 and arraigned in December 2014.
After the plea was entered, Judge Jeffrey Kinder sentenced Johnson to serve five years supervised probation. Under the conditions of his probation, Johnson is prohibited from managing any properties built before 1978 unless they have been certified as lead free; he is also required to pay restitution for any medical costs that may arise as a result of the exposure of a child who occupied one of the apartments for which he uttered a falsified lead inspection letter.
“This defendant falsified lead inspection compliance letters, so that properties he manages could receive government assistance,” said AG Healey. “He put children at risk by falsifying a lead inspection report for a unit that was not in lead paint compliance and was being rented to a tenant with two young children.”
The AG’s Office began an investigation into this matter in December 2013 after it was referred by the Department of Public Health, specifically by their Child Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
Johnson submitted two falsified lead inspection compliance letters, one in November 2011 and one in October 2013, so that two Springfield properties that he managed would be eligible to receive government-funded rental assistance payments through HAP Housing. A licensed lead inspector purportedly signed both letters.
HAP Housing is a regional administrator for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development that administers the Section 8 affordable housing voucher program in the Springfield area. A landlord or property manager must submit appropriate documentation to HAP Housing to become eligible to receive rental assistance payments. Further, if there are children under the age of six living in the unit, a landlord or property manager must submit documentation showing that a passing lead paint inspection was conducted on the property.
However, a review of the letters conducted by HAP Housing and inspectors from the DPH’s Child Lead Poisoning Prevention Program determined that both letters submitted by Johnson were fraudulent. The fraudulent lead letters Johnson submitted were forged by altering a prior legitimate lead inspection report prepared by a licensed lead inspector for a different property. Authorities allege that neither of the properties was in lead paint compliance when the letters were submitted to HAP Housing, despite one being rented to a tenant with two young children.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Tasnin Chowdhury, assigned to the Environmental Crimes Strike Force Division, with assistance from Victims Witness Advocate John Malone, Massachusetts Environmental Police Detectives assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program of the Department of Public Health, which was established to prevent, screen, diagnose and treat lead poisoning and the sources of potential lead poisoning.