On Friday, a Bastrop County grand jury today issued indictments against Brenda D. Schroeder, 62, and her son Wendall B. Bennett, 43.
She is charged with first-degree felony theft by a public servant by submitting false credit applications and engaging in organized criminal activity. The Smithville Housing Authority’s board of directors formally terminated Schroeder’s employment on July 1, 2012.
Schroeder was illegally dispursing federal housing payments to her son by fraudently claiming Bennett was a landlord and elgible for federal subsidies as a low-income housing provider.
Bennett, of Newcastle in Young County, was indicted on felony theft and engaging in organized criminal activity charges.
Investigators discovered Schroeder was also illegally falsifying “documents, forged signatures and violated federal Section 8 housing regulations in order to secure taxpayer-subsidized housing for at least two dozen of her relatives.”
Evidence revealed “some of Schroeder’s relatives actually received illegal benefits as both tenants and landlords.”
“Schroeder’s illicit scheme not only defrauded the taxpayers, it also harmed economically disadvantaged Smithville residents who were relegated to the housing authority’s waiting list because the defendants’ family members were consuming all of the available funding for low-income housing.”
Schroeder paid her son a regular salary as landlord and groundskeeper even though he lived almost 300 miles away from Smithville.
Shroeder rotated her “family members in and out of the system so that federal disbursements would vary from month-to-month. The scope of the defendants’ fraud was so vast that they arranged for relatives who lived as far away as the Wichita Falls area and Needville southwest of Houston to be included on Smithville’s public housing rolls.”
Assistant Attorney General David Glickler will prosecute the case for the State. A first-degree felony offense can result in five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.