District of Columbia Woman Found Guilty in Scheme to Steal Money From Non-Profit She Was Entrusted to Run
WASHINGTON – Rowena Joyce Scott, 70, of the District of Columbia, was convicted today of wire fraud, credit card fraud, filing false tax returns, and failing to file tax returns, in connection with a scheme to steal and embezzle money from the non-profit corporation she was entrusted to run for the benefit of some of the District’s economically disadvantaged residents.
The verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Acting Special Agent in Charge Kareem Carter, of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Washington D.C. Office and Chief John Fowler of the DC Office of Tax and Revenue Criminal Investigation Division. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 18, 2023.
The offense of wire fraud carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison. The offense of filing a false income tax return carries a statutory maximum of 3 years in prison. The offense of credit card fraud carries a statutory maximum of 10 years. The offense of willful failure to file tax returns carries a statutory maximum of one year. All the offenses also carry financial penalties.
According to evidence presented in court, from approximately January 2010 through May 2014, Scott served as the president of the board of directors and manager of Park Southern Neighborhood Corporation (“PSNC”), a non-profit, non-member corporation that owned and operated the Park Southern apartment complex in Southeast Washington, D.C. Instead of serving PSNC’s charitable mission – of providing adequate, safe, affordable housing for the District’s underhoused and underprivileged residents – Scott engaged in a scheme through which she embezzled at least $125,000 from the organization’s coffers and used nearly $30,000 in additional funds to make purely personal, unauthorized purchases from third-party vendors. All the while, Scott collected $260,000 in “salary” (about $60,000 per year), lived in the building rent-free, and used the property’s common rooms, free of charge, to operate her own ministry. Scott failed to report all of the income she received from PSNC – legitimate or otherwise – for tax purposes. Meanwhile, under her watch, the PSNC failed to finish renovations for Americans-with- Disabilities-Act compliant units and failed to make loan payments to the District.
This case was investigated by IRS-CID, the DC Office of Tax and Revenue. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Rakoczy, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Lallas. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Kelly and Diane Lucas, and Paralegal Specialist Sona Chaturvedi.