BUFFALO — The former head of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority has admitted to theft charges, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced on Wednesday.
Stephanie W. Cowart, 58, of Grand Island, has pleaded guilty to theft concerning programs receiving federal funds — a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito, between 1997 and 2016, Stephanie Cowart served as executive director of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority (NFHA), and between Oct. 2013 and Jan. 2015, stole $6,000 from the NFHA with the help of her son and daughter-in-law, Allen and Fredia Cowart.
Allen, 31, and Fredia, 28, both of Niagara Falls, NY, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft of government funds. The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Kennedy had this to say regarding the Former Head's actions:
“As the leader of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, Stephanie Cowart was obligated to act as a responsible steward of these funds and to use them to better the lives of residents and the community as a whole...Instead, the defendant misused her position to ensure that the only improvements realized through her administration of these funds were to the bank balances of her family members.”
Following an investigation by the FBI, the charges were brought to light and Cowart, as well as her son and daughter-in-law, await their sentence scheduled for April 5, 2018.