Palm Beach County Worker Accused of Cookin' the Books to Obtain Mortgage Through County

For writing "$0.00" instead of "$16,482.75" under the "second job" column of her mortgage application, Palm Beach County employee Sylvia Loretta Sharps could face up to 35 years in prison, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Sharps -- who most recently worked with the county as coordinator for the economic development special projects department, was accused by the Inspector General's Office of not disclosing her total income on an application for a mortgage, which she had already obtained through the county's housing department.

According to a probable-cause affidavit, Sharps was working as a grant coordinator for the county's Water Utilities Department in 2009, at a salary of $59,944.16 -- which is below the maximum income limit of $63,360 for the mortgage-loan program.

The problem is, Sharps also earned an additional $22,575 from the City of Pahokee as a grant writer, putting her nearly $16,500 over the limit to participate in the mortgage program, the report says.

By January 2010, Sharps had received two mortgages on her $188,100 Lake Worth home, totaling $212,800 at 4 percent interest for 30 years, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Late last week, investigators interviewed the employee in the Palm Beach County Department of Housing and Community Development who approved the mortgage and said if he had known Sharps had omitted her income from the application, he wouldn't have approved it, according to the affidavit.

He also told investigators he wouldn't have approved the mortgage if she'd reported her entire income anyway, the report says.

Therefore, the State Attorney's Office has charged Sharps with two felonies -- having an organized scheme to defraud for more than $50,000 and obtaining mortgage by fraud.

According to Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office records, Sharps was released from jail at 4:40 a.m. today after posting $18,000 bond.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley