June 12, 2018

Ex-head of Zezzo House indicted for fraud

The former head of a Hartford nonprofit has been arrested on charges he stole federal money intended to benefit people afflicted with health challenges, authorities say.

Steven F. Harvin, 53, of New Haven, was presented Tuesday to a federal magistrate to face charges of wire fraud and theft from programs receiving federal funds in New Haven and later released on $50,000 bond, the Connecticut U.S. Attorney's Office said.

If convicted on all charges, Harvin faces as long as 30 years in prison.

According to investigators, the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program is a federal program dedicated to the housing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Under the HOPWA Program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) makes grants to local communities, states and nonprofit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families. HUD is also responsible for administering the Section 8 housing program, which provides federally subsidized housing to low-income tenants.

A minister, Harvin was president of Zezzo House, a local nonprofit that houses individuals and families with health challenges, including HIV/AIDS, from around Aug. 2015 to Sept. 2016, authorities said.

HUD provides HOPWA funds to the City of Hartford, which funnels those funds to organizations in the Hartford area, including Zezzo House, they said. Zezzo House also receives Section 8 funding.

According to federal investigators, from about Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2016, Harvin allegedly diverted thousands of dollars in federal funds to his personal use. In that time, Zezzo House drew $70,722 in HOPWA funds, some of which Harvin withdrew in cash for himself or spent on personal expenditures.

Harvin also allegedly diverted funds from rent checks from Section 8 tenants to his personal use.
Neither Harvin nor his attorney could be immediately located Tuesday for comment.

A phone listing for Zezzo House's homepage was not in service Tuesday.

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