PBC employee arrested on fraud charges - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

PBC employee arrested on fraud charges

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Sylvia Sharps, Palm Beach County's economic development special projects coordinator, is behind bars and charged with two counts of fraud.

According to a release from the State Attorney's Office, she received more than $200,000 from a mortgage assistance program that is federally funded to purchase a three-bedroom home.

The county administrator calls her actions unacceptable.

The State Attorney's Office says she obtained funds to pay for her home by lying about her salary on a mortgage application through the NSP First Mortgage Loan program, a program that is funded with tax-payer dollars.

"The program is intended to provide housing assistance to low income people who need assistance to purchase a house," said county administrator Bob Weisman.

Sharps was previously the grant coordinator for the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department and worked part-time for the city of Pahokee. She is now the county's economic development special projects coordinator.

Weisman says the investigation was triggered after co-workers became suspicious.

"Some employees at our housing and development office became aware she had other income she hadn't reported to us and reported it to the inspector general," said Weisman.

The program gives loans to people who make less than $63,360 per year, but the State Attorney's Office says Sharps made a total of $80,000 dollars at the time she applied for a loan.

Sharps was arrested at her office Monday and booked into the county jail. She has an $18,000 dollar bond.

"While it didn't have anything to do with her job duties, she is a county employee and any theft or fraud against the county is unacceptable," says Weisman.

Weisman says her actions are to the disadvantage of those really needing the help, as well as the tax payers who fund that help.

"I hope this sends a message. You shouldn't try to cheat money dedicated to those who really need it," said Weisman.

Sharps has not been terminated from her position. For now, she is on unpaid leave of absence. She faces up to 35 years in prison. 

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