Former Pa. Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell pleads guilty to stealing from nonprofit she ran, report

    Movita Johnson-Harrell (Courtesy campaign Facebook page)

    A former Democratic state lawmaker from West Philadelphia faces three months in jail after pleading guilty to charges that she stole more than $500,000 from a nonprofit she ran.

    Movita Johnson-Harrell, 53, was also sentenced to 8 1/2 months of house arrest and must repay the nonprofit, the Associated Press reported. She will also turn over real estate to help cover the cost, the AP reported. Johnson entered the guilty pleas in Philadelphia.

    “Movita is an exceptional woman who will serve her sentence, and then return to her mission of advocacy,” her attorney, Jessica Natali, said in a written statement, according to the Associated Press.

    Johnson-Harrell pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges related to campaign and state financial reports and guilty to felony theft and perjury, the AP reported.

    With Johnson-Harrell’s exit, candidates lining up to run for vacant Philly House seat

    “This Philadelphia community would have been in a better place had this former public official invested [the nonprofit’s] MECA’s money into the people who needed the care she promised,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement, according to the AP.

    Johnson-Harrell, a gun violence prevention advocate, was elected to fill the vacant 190th House District in March, to replace former Democratic Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown. Brown resigned in late 2018, shortly after being elected to a new term after she was found guilty of bribery. Harrell was the first Muslim woman to serve in the General Assembly.
    The special election to fill her seat will be held in March.
    John L. Micek
    John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.