Former Pennsylvania lawmaker pleads guilty to stealing from charity

Movita Johnson-Harrell, 53, won a special election in March for a West Philadelphia district.

A former Pennsylvania state representative faces three months in the Philadelphia jail after pleading guilty to charges she took money from a charity she established for the needy and spent it on vacations, clothing and other personal needs.

Former Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell entered guilty and no contest pleas Thursday in Philadelphia. She won a special election in March for a West Philadelphia district, but resigned in December after being charged.

The 53-year-old Johnson-Harrell will also serve 8 1/2 months of house arrest and must repay the nonprofit. Her lawyer says she's taking responsibility "for some poor decisions she made over the past few years."


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Court papers say the theft went on for years, as she converted the charity's funds into investment properties, vacations and luxury clothing. Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Johnson-Harrell personally spent more than $500,000 from Motivations Education & Consultation Associates, diverting Medicaid and Social Security disability funds.

While under house arrest, Johnson-Harrell will be allowed to leave home for work with verifiable hours, religious sevices every Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and to take her granchildren to school from the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

Johnson-Harrell is ordered to surrender on Feb. 6.

Associated Press contributed to this report


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