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Pennsylvania’s first Muslim female state rep gets just 3 months jail for stealing more than $500K from nonprofit founded to serve mentally ill and poor

Movita Johnson-Harrell, a former Pennsylvania state representative, will spend three months in a Philadelphia jail and finish out the year on house arrest for stealing money from her nonprofit.

Johnson-Harrell, 53, was sentenced on Thursday after she pleaded guilty to felony charges for spendingmore than $500,000 in funds from the Motivations Education & Consultation Associates on personal affects like clothing, vacations and real estate, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office said in a news release.

“This Philadelphia community would have been in a better place had this former public official invested MECA’s money into the people who needed the care she promised,” Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro said after Johnson-Harrell’s court hearing.

The nonprofit serves the homeless, seniors, children, and people with chronic mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and substance abuse disorders.

Johnson-Harrell was recently elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. She won a 2019 special election in the 190th Legislative District, which covers parts of West Philadelphia and North Philadelphia. While reacting to the victory, she stated she was the first Muslim woman elected to the Pennsylvania legislature.

She resigned from the legislature in December 2019.

In addition to her time in jail, Johnson-Harrell will spend eight-and-a-half months on house arrest, eleven-and-a-half months on parole and two years on probation. She also agreed to pay restitution to the nonprofit — including surrendering a property to the state.

Johnson-Harrell pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and perjury, which are all felonies. The AG’s office said she pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of tampering with public records.