CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago Housing Authority mail clerk has been charged with stealing $1,700 in rent money from tenants.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, Ruben Velez, 32, of Bellwood, faces up to 15 years in prison, on charges of theft of government funds, and continuing a financial crimes enterprise.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

Prosecutors say Velez worked for an outside messenger company and was operating from the CHA mailroom when the thefts occurred, prosecutors allege. He worked in the mailroom from December 2010 until February 2011.

The investigation began when the CHA received a string of complaints from tenants that money orders they sent for rent and housing loans was never received.

Investigators found the payee on the money orders had been changed to “Ruben Velez.” The signatures on the money orders were matched to Velez’s that were on file, and a review of bank records showed he deposited the tenant’s money orders into his personal account, the release said.

In total, Velez accused of stealing $1,719.45 from the CHA. He will appear for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 1.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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