Her campaign literature falsely states that Delia Ware-Tibbs is “president of the Roselle Board of Education,” although the school district’s website clearly identifies Dr. Courtney Washington as ‘Board President’ and lists the Column 2 candidate as a ‘Board Member.’
A screenshot from the website appears above, conspicuously showing that Ware-Tibbs is not the president of the Roselle Board of Education, despite her campaign claims.
When she did lead the Roselle Board of Education, Ware-Tibbs presided over some of the school district’s biggest tax increases, but the tax-loving politician now claims her team will “fight to continue fiscal responsibility in our district’s school budget” according to a recent mailer distributed in the borough.
The deceptive mailer circulated by Ware-Tibbs’ campaign team also promises that she and her running mates will “serve as a check against undisciplined spending by focusing on fiscal responsibility and transparency” but if past practice is any indication, that is also untrue.
Ware-Tibbs raised taxes twice in a row while she was the school board president in Roselle and she also hired —as the school board attorney— the politically-connected law firm of Metuchen Mayor Jonathan M. Busch. A number of other patronage jobs, politically-motivated appointments and suspicious contracts were approved during the time she was part of the majority.
The deceptive mailings advocating Ware-Tibbs also promoted her running mates, Stephanie Falana and Lester Neal, who was appointed to the board on April 27, 2020, but finished dead last in a field of seven candidates in the 2020 election, when local voters soundly rejected Republican President Donald Trump.
Ware-Tibbs, Falana and Neal are running on Column 2, which is aligned beneath the Column B slate headed by GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, but their mailings seek to further confuse voters with an altered graphic depiction of the ballot.
They are running against Roselle’s Column 1 school board candidates, who are Gisselle Bond, Yessica Chavez and France Cortez, the slate that appears under Democrats in Column A, incuding Governor Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.
Observers say Ware-Tibbs’ trouble with the truth is rooted in a sense of desperation as her tenuous hold on political power might be the only bargaining chip that could help her avert prosecution over a pending investigation for allegedly collecting federal housing subsidies for an apartment that was rented to a family member.
Then again, it is not uncommon for local political campaigns to engage in dubious assertions in the belief that few voters will notice an occasional lie and fewer still have any means to make the broader public aware of deceptions by candidates made late in the campaign.
Ware-Tibbs allegedly rented a home at 220 Linden Road in Roselle, which she owned, to her brother, Doryan Ware, then failed to disclose her family relationship with the tenant while receiving payments from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Her brother, Doryan Ware, who has done jail time for burglary and other crimes, allegedly lived in the house with his family for a period of about 10 years while Ware-Tibbs collected Section 8 federal housing vouchers without notifying the federal agency that she was both the owner of the property and a relative of the tenant.
The US Attorney’s Office in Newark refused to say if Ware-Tibbs is under investigation by federal authorities for possible HUD violations. U.S Attorney Rachael A. Honig said the Department of Justice generally will not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about ongoing investigations.
However, several local residents and borough officials said they were contacted by FBI agents, US Postal inspectors or special investigators from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If she is convicted of federal crimes, Ware-Tibbs could be removed from the school board and potentially barred for life from holding public office.
“Section 8 housing assistance is meant to lift up low-income families by subsidizing rent,” said New Jersey Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck, in a statement released on September 7, 2021. “We will not tolerate fraudulent acts that undermine the program by diverting needed funds.”
“When we uncover evidence of fraud or misappropriation involving government programs such as Section 8, we stand ready to work with strong government partners like HUD’s Office of Inspector General to investigate and charge anyone who has committed a crime,” said Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) Corruption Bureau.
“The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General is committed to vigorously investigating any elected official who fraudulently receives HUD funds meant for low-income households in need of housing assistance,” said Special Agent in Charge Shawn Rice of the Philadelphia office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General.). “HUD-OIG and its law enforcement partners are committed to holding elected officials accountable for abusing government assistance programs intended for those in most need.”
Lawyers who were asked about the matter say Ware-Tibbs could face substantial penalties if she is convicted for lying to HUD.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) places a high priority on preventing fraud so that anyone who provides false or incomplete information for the purpose of collecting money may be required to repay all overpaid rental assistance you received, subjected to substantial fines and imprisoned for up to five years. One law, 18 U.S. Code § 1010, provides that anyone guilty of lying to HUD shall be fined $10,000 or imprisoned up to two years, or both.
There are numerous federal statutes that can be used to investigate and prosecute various frauds against the government, including 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (false statements), 18 U.S.C. § 287 (false claims), and 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiracy to defraud the government).