Crusader Staff Report
Former executive director of the Gary Housing Authority Mary Cossey has pleaded not guilty to wire fraud charges.
Cossey was scheduled to appear in court, Friday, December 18 in a video conference to enter her plea and get a date set for trial.
In August, Cossey, 54, of Munster, was indicted on three counts of wire fraud after she failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in income when she filed bankruptcy in 2016. Prosecutors accuse Cossey of concealing more than $250,000 in income and assets as part of her bankruptcy filings. That includes $187,000 deposited into a bank account owned by “Individual A.”
Court documents say Cossey made more than 200 cash deposits from January 2013 to September 2019. In court documents, Individual A indicated that 80 percent of the deposits went to pay the American Express bill in Individual A’s name. Court documents say while Cossey was in bankruptcy, Individual A allowed her to charge more than $240,000 to her American Express credit card on clothing, jewelry and accessories, including more than $4,800 in Gucci handbags. Among other purchases was a mink jacket costing nearly $2,100 in New York City and more than $5,800 on shoes and apparel at Neiman Marcus.
The identity of Individual A has not been released, but prosecutors in court documents refer to the individual as a female.
Court documents allege Cossey paid three times more to Individual A than to her trustee in her Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, court records state. Prosecutors allege Cossey violated bankruptcy law, which bars debtors from favoring some owed creditors at the expense of others.
In a press release, Thomas Kirsch II, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana said, “The purpose of Cossey’s scheme was to avail herself of the benefits of bankruptcy — including preventing foreclosure on her home, reducing the majority of her debt on a rental property in Gary, Indiana, and eliminating her unsecured debt for pennies on the dollar — without making any of the financial sacrifices required by Chapter 13 debtors,” Kirsch’s office wrote in the release.
Cossey is on a leave of absence as operations manager for NIPSCO, where she has been employed since 2015.
Cossey in 2013 served as director of constituent services under Mayor Freeman-Wilson’s administration, where she had an $80,000 annual salary. She also served as executive director of the Gary Housing Authority. She left Gary government in 2015 before joining NIPSCO as operations manager.
Freeman-Wilson is currently president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.