County Worker Quits After Section 8 Investigation

Following an NBC 6 Investigators report, a South Florida county employee quit his job. NBC 6's Willard Shepard provides an update.

(Published Friday, Oct. 27, 2017)

A county employee who faced the possibility of being fired has quit his job as a corrections officer after an NBC 6 Investigation found taxpayers have been paying most of the rent on his family’s home.

A Corrections Department spokesperson said Thomas Harper resigned Monday. Harper disputes that and says he retired from his position.

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His annual salary made him ineligible to live in a home being paid for with his wife's Section 8 voucher.

Over a two month period, the NBC 6 Investigators used hidden cameras to see Harper coming and going from his home – from work, to church, even towing his boat and parking it at the home.

Harper said he didn't live there with his wife, Latanya Everette. Her Section 8 voucher paid $1,200 of the $1,383 rent at the home every month since 2010.

According to her landlord, the voucher payments continued even after she married Harper in 2015.

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Public records show Harper made nearly $70,000 per year at his job at TGK and thousands more at a part-time job with the school district. His income is double the maximum allowed for a Section 8 voucher.

"As soon as they got married and they were no longer eligible, they needed to report that to us so we could give that voucher to a truly needy family," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Anyone with a voucher has ten days to report any changes in income or family size.

Before Harper quit, the mayor said the county was investigating what the NBC 6 Investigators found. The investigation could have led to discipline up to and including termination.

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Harper's name was not on his wife's voucher.

"When somebody doesn’t abide by the rules, gives false information or is in Section 8 housing that shouldn’t be, that really upsets me," said Gimenez.

Everette relinquished her voucher after NBC 6 Investigators presented the findings to the couple.

Section 8 vouchers are in high demand. More than 50,000 people are on the waitlist for one in Miami-Dade County.

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"Those are needy families that need decent housing," said Gimenez about the waitlist. "Hopefully this will be an example that we're not going to tolerate that."

The couple's attorney, James DeMiles, said Friday he is working out a deal with the county for his clients to return approximately half of the money paid by their voucher since 2015 and avoid prosecution. The total amount is estimated at $36,000.