Democrat Pennsylvania State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, the first Islamic woman elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, was charged by prosecutors this week for allegedly stealing over $500,000 from a non-profit for the mentally ill, perjury, and tampering with public records.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, announced the charges on Wednesday which came at the conclusion of an investigation into her operation of a non-profit, Motivations Education & Consultation Associates (MECA).
In a statement, Shapiro said that Johnson-Harrell turned herself in on Wednesday to law enforcement officials, and “is taking responsibility for her crimes, plans to plead guilty, and has agreed to resign from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives effective December 13th.”
The statement from Shapiro’s office noted just a few of the items that Johnson-Harrell allegedly spent the stolen funds on:
- $5,500 on multiple fox fur coats,
- $16,000 on vacations to Mexico (twice), Atlanta, and Ocean City, MD,
- $2,065.95 to cover past-due Porsche payments,
- $6,976 for designer clothing,
- $3,000 for an overdue IRS tax bill,
- $3,830 in tuition for relatives,
- $3,200 to Philadelphia Gas Works,
- $4,741.20 for City of Philadelphia taxes, and
- $7,979.54 to cover a restitution payment for a 2014 criminal conviction where Johnson-Harrell failed to pay unemployment compensation tax.
“While Johnson-Harrell was lining her pockets with MECA funds, MECA’s residents were living in squalor,” Shapiro said. “When corruption erodes the trust that is built between governmental entities and citizens, no one wins. I’ve said time and time again as Attorney General that no one is above the law, no matter their position of power. And today is no different.”
Shapiro continued by highlighting the allegations made against Johnson-Harrell: “Representative Johnson-Harrell continuously diverted Medicaid and social security disability funds from her charity to help Philadelphia’s most vulnerable communities for her own personal use. She spent almost $15,000 on clothing, including online shopping sprees at Ralph Lauren and fox fur coats. She traveled to Mexico, Orlando, Georgia and Maryland on lavish trips costing $16,000 of MECA funds. She spent $2,000 on overdue car payments on her Porsche. Another $4,000 on tuition for a relative. And, she spent almost $20,000 on overdue mortgage payments.”
Shapiro also claimed that Johnson-Harrell committed campaign fraud by “failing to accurately report her campaign’s receipts and expenditures” and claimed that she committed tax fraud when she failed to “report her MECA spending as income and didn’t count the rent she continued to pay herself from MECA accounts on properties that no longer operated.”
A news article tweeted out by Shapiro highlighted his crackdown on corruption in the state, which, with Johnson-Harrell’s arrest, now stands at 60 public officials his office has arrested for alleged corruption and other alleged crimes.
The article that Shapiro tweeted out was to a publication called BillyPenn, which reported: “Two-thirds of the 60 arrested over the past two years were police officers or other law enforcement officials, including prosecutors, probation and corrections officers. Charges against them ranged from falsifying police paperwork to soliciting prostitutes while on the job. There are also plenty of county officials who allegedly dipped into public coffers for their personal gain.”
The list of officials that Shapiro arrested also reportedly includes 20 who were brought up on charges involving child pornography.
60 public officials who have broken the trust given to them by the people of Pennsylvania.
This # is startling, frustrating and sad. PA deserves better. We deserve good, honest leadership.
My office will keep rooting out corruption—wherever we find it. https://t.co/OZJgGORNKe
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) December 5, 2019