Philly: City defrauded of $200,000

April 30, 2009 4:32:16 AM PDT
Two municipal employees defrauded the city out of a total of more than $200,000 in a pair of federal corruption cases announced by officials on Wednesday.

Brenda Wilkins, 62, used her job as a real estate specialist with the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp. to get her daughter free housing, according to an indictment.

Separately, Dorena Kearney, 52, was charged with misusing $138,000 in government funds for personal expenses such as cosmetic surgery, a cruise and pet supplies.

Wilkins, of Philadelphia, allowed her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend to live for free from 2000 to 2005 in a home owned by the housing agency, authorities said. She later arranged to sell the house to her daughter for $1, despite its appraised value of $65,000, the indictment said.

Wilkins tried to cover up the transaction once investigators started asking questions, authorities said. She was charged with theft from a program receiving federal funds, witness tampering and making false statements.

Kearney, of Lindenwold, N.J., was the executive director of Colours, a nonprofit organization serving the city's gay and lesbian community. Authorities said she opened various credit card accounts in Colours' name between 2004 and 2007, using them to buy personal items.

Kearney did not immediately return a call for comment. She is charged in an information, which usually indicates a defendant's willingness to plead guilty.

A phone number could not be found for Wilkins, and she did not have an attorney listed.

The cases were investigated by the city inspector general's office in cooperation with the U.S. attorney and the FBI.

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