In March 2019 Movita Johnson-Harrell made headlines by becoming the first muslim elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Not even a year later, Johnson-Harrell is making headlines again after being arrested for stealing $500,000 from a charity she founded.
Harrell-Johnson founded Motivations Education and Consultation Associates (MECA) in 2006, claiming MECA’s mission was to advocate, care, and fight to improve the quality of life for the less fortunate in Philadelphia. They pledged to raise up those who suffer from chronic mental illness, intellectual disabilities, substance abuse, the homeless, seniors, and children, but according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, MECA’s actual mission was to serve as a cash account for Johnson-Harrell’s own personal use.
According to AG Shapiro,
In 2013 MECA began operating personal care homes for the city’s disenfranchised. This began with a series of residences in west Philadelphia owned by Johnson-Harrell and expanded to more properties across the city. Importantly, the organizations funding came from Medicaid dollars and social security disability checks for the facilities residence. They range from $600 to $1100 per person for the disability alone. Johnson-Harrell would collect monthly rent payments from the organization for these homes. and when it was discovered that residents were living in squaller, completely unlivable conditions, MECA abruptly shut some of these facilities down, kicking residents to the curb, leaving them to find new living arrangements or enter into actual treatment, but Johnson-Harrell continued to collect monthly rent payments from MECA funds for these properties despite the fact the organization was no longer using it. Diverting funds from those who truly need it, from those who really needed serious assistance, those who saw next to nothing for their Medicaid and disability dollars, is what Johnson-Harrell did. She diverted that money right into her personal bank account.
Johnson-Harrell spent the stolen funds on mortgage payments, tuitions for relatives, vacations, fur coats, Porsche car payments, shopping sprees and her campaign for State Representative, totaling over $500,000.
Johnson-Harrell turned herself into Philadelphia authorities Wednesday morning. She is being charged by the AG’s office for theft, perjury, tampering with public records, along with other charges. Johnson-Harrell has agreed to plead guilty of the charges and to resign from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
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