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San Francisco business owner indicted in Section 8 benefits scam

The Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse at 450 Golden Gate Ave.
A San Francisco man was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in connection with a Section 8 scam which netted him approximately $340,000. | Source: Google Maps

A federal grand jury indicted a San Francisco man Wednesday in connection with a Section 8 housing benefits scam that authorities say netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Gregory Finkelson, 63, is charged with conspiracy, theft of government property and three counts of money laundering. Investigators say he paid himself approximately $340,000 while hiding his true income as well as the fact he had an “ownership interest” in the house he rented with Section 8 benefits between August 2006 and February 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California announced.

A man's photo appears on his business' website.
Gregory Finkelson, 63, president of American Corporate Services, was indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a Section 8 housing benefits scam. | Source: American Corporate Services

Finkelson also concealed the fact he owned and was sole president of a American Corporate Services, going as far as reporting an income of $12,000 per year as a notary public for ACS from 2015 to 2017 in order to qualify for Section 8, prosecutors said. The company, in actuality, accrued $2.8 million in gross income between 2013 and 2018.

Tony Brass, an attorney for Finkelson, disputed the government’s allegations.

“Mr. Finkelson would like to assert that the federal government has misinterpreted the evidence before them and looks forward to his opportunity to be heard in court to present his case,” Brass told The Standard.

In the narrative laid out by the indictment, Finkelson worked with an unnamed co-conspirator from Russia to hide his ownership of the home by setting up multiple bank accounts in their names.

Finkelson divided the single-family home into three units—renting one while living in another and running his business out of the third, authorities added. He funneled the Section 8 payments into the accounts he controlled and used the money to pay for personal expenses, including a vacation time share on Maui and business expenses for ACS, prosecutors said.

American Corporate Services, according to the company’s website, operates its corporate headquarters in San Francisco at 2076 16th Ave., Suite A, also has branches in Delaware, Washington, Florida, Nevada and Oregon.

A Google Maps screenshot of a business' headquarters inside a home.
A Google Maps screenshot of American Corporate Services headquarters at a home on 16th Avenue in San Francisco. | Source: Google Street View

The company says it serves an estimate 7,000 clients.

Finkelson’s initial appearance in court has not been scheduled, according to authorities. But Brass said his client agreed to appear in court Friday morning for an initial appearance.

If convicted, Finkelson faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution for conspiracy; 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for theft of government property; and 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds and restitution for each count of money laundering, prosecutors said.

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