Argued February 11, 2015
On the briefs: Peter E. Rodway, Esq., Rodway & Horodyski, P.A., Portland, for appellant Ali-Nassir H. Ahmed.
Bruce M. Merrill, Esq., Law Offices of Bruce M. Merrill, P.A., Portland, for appellant Roda O. Abdi.
Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Leanne Robbin, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine.
At oral argument: Peter E. Rodway, Esq., for appellant Ali-Nassir H. Ahmed.
Bruce M. Merrill, Esq., for appellant Roda O. Abdi.
Leanne Robbin, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee State of Maine.
Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HJELM, JJ.
[¶1] The Section 8 housing program is a collaborative federal and state program through which local public housing agencies provide federally-supported subsidies directly to landlords who rent to low-income tenants who have been prequalified by the local public housing agencies. The program is designed to make quality housing available in the private rental market to individuals classified as having no income or very low income.
[¶2] Between 2002 and 2008, Roda O. Abdi and Ali-Nassir H. Ahmed, claiming to have no income or very low income, applied for, were found qualified for, and lived in Section 8 housing, for which the local housing authority paid a substantial rent subsidy to the landlord. During this time period, Section 8 eligibility forms that were signed or acknowledged by Abdi
and/or Ahmed indicated that the rental subsidy paid for their apartment was at least $750 per month, and often much more.
[¶3] Throughout this time, Abdi and Ahmed owned, managed, or were employed by the A& R Halal Market and earned income far in excess of the maximum that would qualify them for Section 8 housing assistance. See 24 C.F.R. § § 982.201(a)-(b) (2014). In addition, while living in their subsidized apartment, Abdi and Ahmed acquired two properties and paid off mortgages totaling $266,000 on those properties. As a result of one of these real estate purchases, Ahmed became a Section 8 housing landlord and received Section 8 housing assistance payments for qualifying tenants in the property.
[¶4] Ultimately, Abdi and Ahmed's deception was discovered. They are now before us on appeal from their convictions of theft by deception (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 354(1)(B)(1) (2014), entered in the Superior Court (Androscoggin County, Clifford, J.) following a joint, jury-waived trial.
[¶5] In this consolidated appeal, Abdi and Ahmed argue that the court erred in admitting in evidence as business records, pursuant to M.R. Evid. 803(6), certain forms on which they had provided financial information. These forms were prepared by a property management company for use by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and state authorities to determine the defendants' eligibility for Section 8 housing assistance. Abdi and Ahmed contend that (1) these forms did not qualify under the business-records exception to the hearsay rule, and (2) admission of the forms violated their rights of ...