published on March 23, 2017 - 6:59 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

A former Fresno Housing Authority coordinator has pleaded guilty to extortion charges amid accusations that she took money from housing assistance applicants to ensure they received federal benefits.

Danieyelle Williams, 38, of Fresno, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty earlier this week to two federal counts of extortion under color of official right, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California reports.

A report from the office states that Williams was a housing program coordinator from 2007 through 2013, where she helped administer federal housing benefits, including the Section 8 housing choice voucher program.

To obtain those benefits, applicants are entered into a lottery system that is supposed to randomly pick who receives those benefits.

Prosecutors say Williams managed the files of housing assistance applicants, but she solicited bribes from some in exchange for switching the names of people legitimately chosen with those of people who had paid her so they could receive the housing benefits.

“The bribe payments received by Williams included a $1,150 payment to her landlord and a $500 payment to her utility company,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s report, which discloses that Williams was suspected of receiving 10-12 bribes.

The report didn’t disclose the combined value of all the suspected bribes. Williams is scheduled to be sentenced June 19. Besides facing a possible prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd could fine Williams up to $250,000 for each of the two counts.

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