Pennsylvania State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell (D-Philadelphia) was indicted yesterday on charges stemming from her theft of over $500,000 from a charity she founded.
The Philadelphia Inquirer details Johnson-Harrell’s anti-gun activism in this story.
Johnson-Harrell, the first female Muslim member of the House, came to office with the intensely personal story of having endured the shooting deaths of her father, brother, cousin and 18-year-old son. She campaigned on a platform of ending gun violence, and is active in an anti-gun violence foundation named for her son Charles, who was shot to death in 2011.
The criminal complaint against Rep. Johnson-Harrell lists a variety of charges against her. They include two counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, perjury, two counts of tampering with public records, and reporting by candidates and political committees.
In announcing the charges, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D-PA) said:
Shapiro said the defendant personally spent more than $500,000 from Motivations Education & Consultation Associates, or MECA, on vacations, designer clothing, luxury car payments, real estate purchases, past-due mortgage payments, and other personal expenses.
“When corruption erodes the trust that is built between governmental entities and citizens, no one wins,” Shapiro said. “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.”
“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,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “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.”
Johnson-Harrell earned a salary of $89,000 while serving in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and had left a job with the Philadelphia DA’s Office as a victim’s advocate which paid $104,000 yearly. It is reported that her thefts from MECA continued while she was working for the DA’s Office as well as in her elected position.
According to her official legislative biography, Johnson-Harrell was a community college graduate who went on to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. Reading between the lines, with an age of 53 and her high school diploma date of 1997, she was an adult student when she completed her education. For someone her age, her high school graduation normally would have been in the 1984-85 time period.
Johnson-Harrell was elected in a special election in March to replace Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-Philadelphia). Rep. Brown resigned from office in December 2018 after being sentenced for bribery and other charges. The Attorney General’s Office says Johnson-Harrell will be pleading guilty and will resign from office effective December 13th.