Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Former New York City Human Resources Administration Employee Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To More Than Seven Years In Prison For Fraud And Cocaine Trafficking

   Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that PETRONILA PERALTA, a/k/a “Petra,” a former employee with the New York City Human Resources Administration (“HRA”), was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 90 months in prison for defrauding a public assistance program that she had administered during the time when she worked for HRA, resulting in the theft of more than $600,000 in public funds, and for trafficking more than 100 kilograms of cocaine following her separation from HRA. Sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated: “Petronila Peralta not only trafficked in large quantities of cocaine, but also abused her position of trust by enriching herself and her co-conspirators at the expense of some of New York City’s neediest citizens. For her serious crimes, she has now been sentenced to over seven years in federal prison.

According to the Complaint, Indictment, plea agreement, and other information in the public record:

HRA is an agency of the City of New York responsible for administering various public assistance programs. Among other things, HRA provides temporary help to individuals and families with social service and economic needs to assist them in reaching self-sufficiency. Its services include, among others, administering the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (more commonly known as “food stamps”), administering the federally funded Temporary Aid to Needy Families Program, and providing rental assistance to low-income families and individuals.

Between 2005 and August 2014, PERALTA worked at HRA. Although PERALTA was supposed to provide economic support and employment-related services to persons in need, between approximately 2009 and 2011, PERALTA abused her position by fraudulently issuing certain public assistance benefits not to the individuals who were entitled to them, but rather to her co-conspirators. The scheme led by PERALTA resulted in the loss of more than approximately $600,000 in public funds. In addition, following her separation from HRA, between approximately January 2013 and March 2015, PERALTA received, and helped others to receive, through the mail more than 100 kilograms of cocaine meant for re-distribution. In handing down the sentence, Judge Woods called PERALTA the “lynchpin” of both the HRA fraud and the narcotics conspiracy.

In addition to the prison sentence, PERALTA, 53, of Bronx, New York, was ordered to pay $600,000 in restitution and $675,000 in forfeiture.

Acting U.S. Attorney Kim praised the work of the New York City Department of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

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