For­mer hous­ing author­ity man­ager pleads to theft

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - Dar­ryl Welch dwelch@cov­ —Ed­i­tor and Pub­lisher David Cle­mons con­trib­uted to this re­port.

For­mer Cov­ing­ton Hous­ing Author­ity ad­min­is­tra­tive man­ager Erica L. Mor­ris pleaded guilty in fed­eral court in At­lanta on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon to mak­ing more than $35,000 in per­sonal pur­chases on a Hous­ing Author­ity credit card. The U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice for the North­ern District of Ge­or­gia said the 34-year-old Mor­ris was charged with mak­ing more than 60 unau­tho­rized pur­chases on her Author­ity mer­chant card from June 2015 to May 2016. The pur­chases in­cluded thou­sands of dol­lars’ worth of Visa gift cards. In ad­di­tion, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease, she used her ac­cess to the Author­ity’s tele­phone ac­count to pur­chase an iPhone 6. Mor­ris re­port­edly used the gift cards to pay for var­i­ous per­sonal living ex­penses, in­clud­ing pay­ing her hus­band’s child sup­port costs. In to­tal, she un­law­fully charged more than $35,000 to her Hous­ing Author­ity mer­chant credit card. Mor­ris worked for the Author­ity from Jan­uary 2006 un­til Sept. 30, 2016, ul­ti­mately serv­ing as its ad­min­is­tra­tive man­ager. In that po­si­tion, she man­aged the Author­ity’s ac­count­ing, book­keep­ing, hu­man re­sources, pay­roll ac­counts, payable and re­ceiv­able ac­counts and ser­vice con­tracts and main­tained the of­fice’s busi­ness records. She was charged with one count of fed­eral pro­gram theft on a crim­i­nal in­for­ma­tion on Sept. 13. “By steal­ing more than $35,000, Mor­ris be­trayed the trust given to her by the Cov­ing­ton Hous­ing Author­ity,” said U.S. At­tor­ney John A. Horn. “Mor­ris stole money that was sup­posed to be used to serve the low-in­come fam­i­lies of Cov­ing­ton and used the money to sup­port her own life­style.”

The Cov­ing­ton Hous­ing Author­ity was es­tab­lished in 1965 and, ac­cord­ing to its web­site, seeks to “pro­vide de­cent, safe, and san­i­tary hous­ing, in good re­pair, to low-in­come fam­i­lies at an af­ford­able rent.”

No sen­tenc­ing date has been set, spokesman Bob Page of the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice in At­lanta said. Page said sen­tenc­ing guide­lines were not im­me­di­ately avail­able.

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