Suspect accused in theft from SB Housing Authority appears in court

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:53 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A woman who was allegedly involved in the theft of millions from the South Bend Housing Authority today had her bond set at $10,000 unsecured.

There were extenuating circumstances in the case of Tyreisha Robinson. In court today, it was revealed that she is pregnant, and that the pregnancy is considered “high risk.”

Tyreisha Robinson is currently on disability and is unable to work her current job. The judge today appointed a public offender to handle her case.

Robinson is the first of five alleged co-conspirators to go before a judge. Her trial date was set for September 27th and it’s expected to last about three weeks.

The judge warned that her maximum prison sentence would be 290-years, and that the maximum fine would be $9.5 million.

In the fall of 2020, 100 residents of a South Bend Housing Authority high rise were abruptly told to move out because of the need to perform extensive repairs and maintenance on an expedited basis.

“This explains a lot of why the conditions are the way they are,” South Bend Mayor James Mueller told 16 News Now. “I mean, these are charges, we’ll let the legal process play out, but these are charges of fraud and corruption and so that’s just unacceptable and our residents are suffering today because of these things that happened in the past.”

The mayor appoints all six members of the housing authority board of directors who then hire an executive director.

During Tonya Robinson’s five-year stint as director, she is accused of writing $5.9 million worth of checks for repairs, maintenance, and cleaning services that were never performed.

Court documents allege that contractors cashed the checks and provided cash kickbacks to housing authority leaders.

Prosecutors reviewed Tonya Robinson’s personal bank account activity and found that she deposited some $655,000 in cash—mainly $100-bills—between 2015 and 2019.

Court documents also allege that Tonya Robinson incurred a net loss of at least $600,000 at local casinos from 2015 to 2018.

“There’s been a long history on this,” said Mueller. “Former Mayor Pete replaced the entire board a few years ago.”

Mayor Buttigieg’s house cleaning came in 2015.

Mayor Mueller says that in January of this year, Catherine Lamberg was hired as executive director.

“There’s a lot of work to be done here over the course, over the next few years to turn the ship around,” Mueller concluded.

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