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NEW ORLEANS Two former Housing Authority of New Orleans employees have been charged with trying to defraud the organization, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Janice Staves, 55, and James Youngblood, 69, face up to five years and possible fines of $250,000 for their part in what the U.S. Attorney's Office said were conspiracies to embezzle a combined $762,352 from HANO.

According to the announcement, Stave, a purchasing clerk for the organization for nearly 17 years, and Youngblood, who was employed there for nearly 36 years, worked together to allow both a way to make money off of HANO.

Youngblood, who opened YOUNGBLOOD and YOUNGBLOOD Construction LLC . after leaving HANO in 2003, convinced Staves to pay his company for doing no work. In return, the attorney's office said, Stave would receive kickbacks from Youngblood

During the period in question, Youngblood received more than $660,000 in HANO checks, the attorney's office said, adding that Staves deposited more than $100,000 from Youngblood. Investigators said both would meet at the HANO office and in parking lots to exchange some of the cash.

'Procedures for requisition for jobs were circumvented in connection with the elaborate scheme which allowed Staves to generate false paperwork, which appeared legitimate, resulting in payments to Youngblood for work never performed and payments in advance for work to be performed, which was never authorized and never performed at a late date,' the U.S. Attorney's release said. 'The fraudulent purchase orders were often designated for debris removal and/or supplies, such as locks.'

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