State Watch

Pennsylvania lawmaker charged with stealing from nonprofit for the mentally ill

A Pennsylvania state representative was charged Wednesday over allegations that she stole more than half a million dollars from a nonprofit she founded, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday. 

Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell (D) allegedly spent more than $500,000 from Motivations Education and Consultation Associates on personal expenses, including vacations, designer clothing, luxury car payments, real estate purchases and past-due mortgage payments, Shapiro said. 

Johnson-Harrell diverted Medicaid and Social Security disability funds from her charity - which aims to help those living with chronic mental illness, intellectual disabilities and substance abuse disorders - for her own personal use, Shapiro said. 

The charges include theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, perjury, tampering with public records and reporting by candidates and political committees. 

"When corruption erodes the trust that is built between governmental entities and citizens, no one wins," Shapiro said in the release. "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 said Johnson-Harrell turned herself in Wednesday morning and plans to plead guilty. He said the Democrat has agreed to resign from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives effective Dec. 13. 

Johnson-Harrell released a statement to The Associated Press through her lawyers, in which she denied some of the allegations. 

"I am saddened and dismayed by the nature of the allegations brought against me today," she said. "I vigorously dispute many of these allegations, which generally pertain to before I took office and I intend to accept responsibility for any actions that were inappropriate."

Outbrain