January 31, 2012 in City

Ex-deputy sentenced for HUD fraud

Peterson lied about fulfilling residency requirement
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A former Spokane County sheriff’s deputy has been sentenced to serve a month in prison after he previously pleaded guilty to defrauding a federal program that allows law enforcement officers and other public employees to buy homes at a discount.

Brett J. Peterson, 41, had faced a sentencing range of six months to a year in federal prison. But U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle instead sentenced Peterson last Thursday to one month.

Peterson ended his 14-year career with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office in September after he agreed to plead guilty to three felony counts of lying to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He had purchased a home on West College Avenue in 2004 as part of the Good Neighbors Next Door Program, which pays half the cost of a home for law enforcement officers, firefighters and teachers who agree to buy homes in troubled neighborhoods and to live in them for three years. Peterson didn’t fulfill that residency requirement but signed documents saying he did.

Peterson was also ordered to repay $32,500, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Rice said. The case began from an anonymous tip in 2008, and federal agents working for HUD turned their findings over to federal prosecutors.

Peterson had been making a base salary of $65,000, but that amount did not include overtime and other possible pay increases, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said in an earlier interview. The sheriff previously called the case “heartbreaking” because Peterson was very talented.

Peterson’s defense attorney, Rob Cossey, could not be reached Monday for comment.


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