Though the Democrat disputed a few of these fees, she additionally submitted her resignation Thursday to step down from workplace, and officers said she is planning to plead responsible to some fees, which embrace theft, perjury and associated crimes.
“Her theft knew no bounds,” Pennsylvania Lawyer Common Josh Shapiro said. “Nobody is above the legislation, regardless of their place of energy. And in the present day isn’t any completely different.”
Johnson-Harrell, 53, is the 60th public official in Pennsylvania to have been arrested by Shapiro’s workplace since 2017. However the eye-popping allegations in opposition to her stand out.
Prosecutors say the lawmaker used her charity as a “money account,” drawing in some circumstances from her shoppers’ authorities advantages, and coated it up by mendacity on monetary information belonging to her nonprofit and marketing campaign, in addition to herself.
“I vigorously dispute many of those allegations, which usually pertain to earlier than I took workplace,” she mentioned in a statement to the Associated Press, “and I intend to simply accept accountability for any actions that have been inappropriate.”
A lawyer for Johnson-Harrell didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark from The Washington Put up.
Johnson-Harrell, who mentioned she was the primary feminine Muslim member of the Pennsylvania Home of Representatives, was first elected in March and quickly emerged as an outspoken voice in opposition to gun violence. She was partly motivated by her family’s painful historical past: 4 family members — her father, solely brother, a cousin, and her 18-year-old son — have been fatally shot.
It was the loss of life of her brother, who went undiagnosed and untreated for bipolar dysfunction and PTSD, that she said first motivated her to start out her charity, Motivations Training & Session Associates (MECA), about twenty years in the past
Beneath her management as government director, the group “has advocated, cared for and fought to enhance the standard of life for disenfranchised teams,” Johnson-Harrell mentioned in a University of Pennsylvania biography.
In 2005, she privately purchased three adjoining rowhouses within the neighborhood of West Powelton, prosecutors mentioned, earlier than renting the property to MECA in 2013 — for the precise price of her mortgage funds.
The three buildings have been purported to function a private care house, partly funded by residents’ Medicaid and Social Safety incapacity advantages. However when state well being officers threatened to shutter the house as a result of its squalid circumstances, MECA kicked out its residents.
Even then, with the house unused, the charity saved paying lease to its government director.
“Whereas Johnson-Harrell was lining her pockets with MECA funds,” Shapiro mentioned, “MECA’s residents have been dwelling in squalor.”
Within the meantime, Johnson-Harrell was appointed to a job overseeing sufferer providers for Philadelphia’s district legal professional in Nov. 2017, and launched an unsuccessful bid for her present seat within the Pennsylvania Home.
Along with making direct transfers to her checking account, “Johnson repeatedly wrote checks for ‘money’ on MECA’s account, in various quantities, each time she wanted extra cash,” prosecutors mentioned in a lengthy criminal complaint.
The nonprofit’s coffers ended up funding a laundry checklist of high-ticket objects: Matching fox fur coats for her and her husband. Designer garments from Ralph Lauren and luxurious on-line retailers. Overdue automotive funds on her Porsche Cayenne. Personal-school tuition for her grandchildren.
And after MECA paid for journeys to Mexico, Atlanta and Ocean Metropolis, spending $16,000 on journey in 2017, prosecutors turned to the lawmaker’s social media for solutions. “Johnson’s Fb posts from these trip locations, depart little doubt that these have been pleasure journeys,” they wrote within the grievance.
Johnson-Harrell inflated the wage of a relative who labored at MECA in order that member of the family might buy a west Philadelphia home that the lawmaker moved into — and for which she paid the mortgage.
In January 2018, when that home was foreclosed on and he or she went into default on one other property, prosecutors mentioned, MECA gave its government director a $70,000 “mortgage” ― which she later used to repay her actual property monetary woes.
Final yr, the sitting state consultant for her district resigned following a bribery conviction. So Johnson-Harrell made one other go for the job.
Very like her automotive, and her home, and her fur coats, although, her marketing campaign was additionally bankrolled by MECA. Prosecutors say that she transferred $12,500 instantly from the charity’s checking account to her marketing campaign committee, which she informed to report the cash as a private mortgage from her. She additionally allegedly funneled one other $30,000 to the charity by her private checking account.
In a letter to Pennsylvania Home Speaker Mike Turzai (R) on Thursday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the lawmaker mentioned she was “accepting accountability for some missteps” she made earlier than her election.
“I’m selecting to resign to guard my district, to permit for an orderly election for my successor, and to concentrate on my protection to those allegations,” she wrote.