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Guilty plea entered in government assistance theft case

By Staff | May 6, 2016

A former Cape Coral employee has pleaded guilty to stealing government assistance funds.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida announced last week that Rose Ann Labarbera, 61, had entered into a plea agreement following her indictment in August. Labarbera was indicted along with her husband, Ronald R. Raiola, who also went by the name Ronald Sambuco.

She pleaded guilty to theft of government funds involving the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher Program, according to a prepared statement recently released. She was originally indicted on a second charge – conspiracy to commit theft of government funds.

Labarbera faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison for the theft charge.

The conspiracy charge carried a maximum penalty of five years in prison, officials reported.

As of Thursday, a sentencing date had not yet been set.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman William Daniels declined to comment on the deal.

“We do not wish to comment on the plea agreement,” he said.

Defense attorney Neil Potter is representing Labarbera.

Potter did not return messages on Thursday seeking comment.

According to the agreement, Labarbera posed as Raiola’s landlord from at least January 1997 until November 2012 so her husband could receive HUD HCV housing assistance subsidies to which they were not entitled. She took steps to conceal his identity in order to continue receiving HUD funds.

Labarbera also submitted, and caused to be submitted to HUD, documents containing material misrepresentations and false statements. The couple concealed their marital status, income, assets and ownership interests in residential properties in New York and Florida for the housing subsidies.

According to Connie Barron, spokeswoman for the Cape, Labarbera worked as a customer service representative in the Utilities Department from 2007 until Nov. 3, when she was terminated.

Labarbera was placed on paid administrative leave when the indictment was filed.

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

He declined to comment on Labarbera’s plea deal or his client’s case on Thursday.

Raiola is scheduled for trial in June.

According to the indictment, Raiola was charged with conspiracy to commit theft of government funds and two counts of theft of government funds. He reportedly also received benefits through the Social Security Administration’s Supplemental Security Income Program, resulting in the second theft charge.

The indictment also stated 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. Attorney David Lazarus is prosecuting the case.

Neither Raiola nor Labarbera could be reached for comment on Thursday.