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Cape Coral couple facing fraud charges

By Staff | Aug 28, 2015

A Cape Coral couple – of which one is a city employee – is accused of conspiring to steal government assistance funds in Florida and New York.

Ronald R. Raiola, 57, also known as Ronald Sambuco, and Rose Ann Labarbera, 61, were indicted Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, according to official documents.

Raiola and Labarbera were each charged with conspiracy to commit theft of government funds and theft of government funds involving the Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. Raiola was charged with an additional count of theft of government funds, officials noted.

The conspiracy charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison, and the theft of government funds charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years, according to the documents.

The indictment also states that the United States is seeking a money judgement from Raiola and Labarbera in the amount of about $81,826 for convictions on the shared charges. On the second count of theft of government funds, it is asking for a judgement in the amount of $71,054 from Raiola.

Assistant U.S. Public Defender Russell Rosenthal is representing Raiola.

“We have no comment,” he said on Thursday.

Defense attorney Neil Potter is representing Labarbera.

He did not return a message seeking comment by press time.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Lazarus will be prosecuting the case.

According to the indictment, Raiola took part in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, or “Section 8,” from at least January 1997 until December 2012. He made fraudulent representations concerning his identity, marital status, place of residence, financial status and ability to engage in gainful employment.

Raiola reportedly made the fraudulent representations in order to participate in and receive housing assistance subsidies through the program. He also received benefits through the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income Program – resulting in the second charge of theft.

Officials reported that Raiola is married to and lives with Labarbera. As part of the conspiracy, they concealed their marital status, income and ownership interests in residential properties in the two states from HUD. Some properties were rented to Raiola, and rent was paid to his wife or to Raiola’s alias.

Raiola and Labarbera have reportedly made their initial appearance in federal court and have been released on bond. Raiola was ordered to take part in home detention and electronic monitoring.

Raiola has a court appearance scheduled for Sept. 8.

As of Thursday, no court date had been set for Labarbera.

Connie Barron, spokeswoman for the Cape, reported that Labarbera is an employee, working as a customer service representative in the Utilities Department. She has been employed since 2007.

“She currently is on paid administrative leave,” Barron said on Thursday.