Ex-Nassau Co. housing official arrested

CENTRAL ISLIP - A former Nassau County housing official is accused of stealing money meant for the poor. Federal investigators say Louis Abate pocketed $120,000 in federal funds meant to provide affordable housing for low-income Long Island residents. Abate once served as the Nassau County Housing and Community Development's program coordinator and fiscal manager. His job was to pay Section 8 benefits to Island Park landlords who were renting to qualified tenants. But court documents say a monthly payout of nearly $5,000 to a J.M. Watson raised a red flag. Investigators say it was three times more than any other Island Park landlord received, and they found no evidence of a J.M. Watson having any tenants. Authorities say they traced the funds to a bank account owned by Abate and his wife, whose full name is Joanne Marie Watson Abate. Investigators say Abate's Section 8 benefit thefts go as far back as 2009. If convicted, he could spend up to ten years in federal prison. Abate was released from jail today after using his North Massapequa home to cover his $100,000 bond.

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