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Couple charged with using army vet’s ID to obtain Section 8 subsidies

January 14, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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A California couple has been arraigned on an indictment in which they are variously charged with grand larceny, identity theft, welfare fraud and other charges for allegedly using the identity of a U.S. Army veteran to apply for government benefits, including through the Veterans Administration, for Section 8 housing in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez identified the defendants as Kevin Middleton, 40, and Tonni Chapman, 49, both of Los Angeles, but formerly of Brooklyn. They were arraigned Thursday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an 84-count indictment in which they are variously charged with third- and fourth-degree grand larceny, second-degree forgery, first- and second-degree identity theft, second-degree criminal impersonation, third- and fourth-degree welfare fraud, and related charges. They were released without bail and ordered to return to court on March 23, 2022.

According to the investigation, in February 2018, Middleton allegedly posed as Kevin Chapman and obtained a non-driver’s license identification card from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles in Kevin Chapman’s name. Kevin Chapman, the victim, is a U.S. Army veteran and the former husband of defendant Tonni Chapman, who is Middleton’s girlfriend.

Middleton also allegedly obtained a replacement Social Security card in Chapman’s name under his own Social Security number. He also allegedly obtained a New York State identification card in Chapman’s name, but with the defendant’s photograph.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Danny Chun. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

Then, according to the charges, he posed as Kevin Chapman in May 2018, went to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs office in Manhattan and applied for a replacement VA card in Kevin Chapman’s name, using the fraudulently obtained identification cards as proof of identity. The VA card was mailed to Middleton in Brooklyn, with his photo and Kevin Chapman’s name and date of birth on it.

Both defendants allegedly applied for benefits pursuant to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) using Kevin Chapman’s identity, and received $1,000 in benefits from May 31, 2018 and Jan. 13, 2020.

It is also alleged that the defendants, using Kevin Chapman’s identity, received social services from the VA to which they were not entitled while living in a homeless shelter. In approximately September 2018, social workers from the VA assisted Middleton with his fraudulent application for Section 8 housing, which the New York City Housing Authority expedited because of his status as a military veteran.

From November 2018 through the present, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development paid more than $35,000 to subsidize Middleton’s rent at the Boulevard Houses in East New York.

The scheme began to unravel on June 8, 2019, when police went to the apartment in response to a 911 call involving a domestic dispute and were allegedly told by Tonni Chapman that her assailant (who was not home at the time) was Kevin Chapman. The next day, the police returned to the apartment and arrested Kevin Middleton, who they say was posing as Kevin Chapman. When he failed to appear in court in July 2019, a bench warrant was issued for Kevin Chapman.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These defendants are charged with brazenly stealing the identity of an Army veteran to fraudulently obtain benefits to which they were not entitled. Furthermore, they allegedly harmed his reputation by again using his name when one was arrested for an alleged domestic violence incident.”

Acting NYC Investigations Commissioner Daniel Cort said, “Over nearly two years, these defendants not only stole public housing and benefit funds but steadily and repeatedly exploited the honor and integrity of the victim in this case, an Army veteran, according to the charges. The crimes charged in this indictment — identity theft, criminal impersonation, grand larceny and welfare fraud, among others — alter victims’ official data, undermining their livelihoods and creating avoidable legal and financial obstacles.”

The case was investigated by Senior Assistant District Attorney Joseph DiBenedetto of the Cyber Crimes Unit of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau.

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