BRADENTON -- Former Bradenton Housing Authority Executive Director Wenston DeSue, who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $276,000 from the BHA, will be sentenced in federal court at 9 a.m. Sept. 2, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa.
DeSue faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for one count of theft of federal funds in connection to financial improprieties while he served as BHA executive director.
DeSue pleaded guilty to the charge May 28 as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors who agreed not to file additional charges.
DeSue is free while awaiting sentencing on a $20,000 signature bond, meaning he did not put up any money for the bond, but will have to pay $20,000 if he violates any bond conditions.
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DeSue has agreed to pay full restitution of $276,300 for the money he stole from the BHA from September 2010 through September 2013.
He had been under investigation by federal agents for more than a year before agents raided BHA offices in September 2013 and seized documents and computer equipment. Soon after, the BHA Board fired DeSue.
Through seized items, video surveillance and GPS tracking devices on BHA vehicles used by DeSue and his
then-girlfriend, Stephany West, prosecutors tracked the pair's activities and built the case.
DeSue illegally doctored payroll documents to reflect time worked when he did not. West, now married to DeSue, faces similar penalties after she pleaded guilty March 20 to a theft charge.
West is scheduled for sentencing June 30, but the U.S. Attorney's Office told the Bradenton Herald on Tuesday her sentencing date may change, without offering further explanation.
DeSue and West took vacations and day trips and used BHA time to run personal errands. Prosecutors say the behavior escalated to the point where West missed work 75 percent of the time in her final year and DeSue was absent 60 percent of the time. DeSue recorded each of them as having worked, leading to unearned salary and unearned sick time the pair also cashed in for additional pay.
In DeSue's case, he collected $204,756 in unearned salary and cashed in more than $71,000 of sick and annual leave he should have used for time he missed at work. DeSue will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew.
The pair will pay restitution to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.