Former nonprofit regional director sentenced in federal bribery case

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FILE – In this July 6, 2020, file photo a sign for the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons is displayed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York. While most criminal justice overhauls require action from local officials or legislation, reforming the federal prison system is something President Joe Biden and his Justice Department control. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

A former regional director of community development for the National Community Stabilization Trust was sentenced Tuesday to one year and one day in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Nevada.

Sergio Barajas, 54, of Chino Hills, California oversaw the western United States for NCST, which was formed in 2008 in response to the national mortgage foreclosure crisis. Barajas was convicted of taking bribes from a number of individuals with other nonprofit organizations, and using his role at NCST to funnel foreclosures to those companies.

Barajas pleaded guilty in March 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. He was accused of taking more than $380,000 from a total of three groups for hundreds of properties in California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Michael Gibson of HUD OIG, Los Angeles, California, made the announcement.

This case was investigated by HUD OIG. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Schiess prosecuted the case.

To submit allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement or whistleblower related matters within HUD and HUD-funded programs to the OIG, the public can either call the HUD OIG Hotline number at 1-800-347-3735 or make an online report at https://www.hudoig.gov/hotline/report-fraud.

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