Administrative manager pleads guilty to making over $35,000 in personal charges on Covington Housing Authority credit card
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Georgia
ATLANTA – Erica L. Morris pleaded guilty to making more than $35,000 in personal purchases on a Covington Housing Authority credit card that had been issued to her for work-related purchases.
“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.”
Nadine E. Gurley, Special Agent in Charge for the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General said, “HUD's Office of Inspector General is dedicated to protecting HUD from individuals seeking to defraud programs meant for America’s most vulnerable population. The guilty plea announced today is a reminder to citizens that we will aggressively investigate industry professionals who attempt to steal from our programs. The partnership between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and HUD’s Office of Inspector General, has helped demonstrate to taxpayers that those who seek to unlawfully profit by defrauding HUD programs will be vigorously prosecuted.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: The Covington Housing Authority (“CHA”) 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.”
From January 2006 to September 30, 2016, Morris worked for the CHA, ultimately serving as its Administrative Manager. In that position, Morris managed CHA’s accounting, bookkeeping, human resources, payroll accounts, payable and receivable accounts, service contracts, and maintained the office’s business records. As the Administrative Manager, the CHA issued Morris a merchant credit card to make work-related purchases.
From approximately June 2015 to May 2016, Morris made more than 60 unauthorized personal purchases on her merchant credit card, including buying thousands of dollars’ worth of Visa gift cards. In addition, Morris used her access to the CHA’s telephone account to purchase an iPhone 6 cellular telephone for a family member. Subsequently, Morris used the Visa gift cards to pay various personal living expenses, including paying her husband’s child support costs. In total, Morris unlawfully charged more than $35,000 to her CHA merchant credit card.
On September 13, 2017, Morris, 34, of Covington, Georgia, was charged via a criminal information with one count of Federal Program Theft.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of the Inspector General is investigating this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey W. Davis is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.
Updated October 4, 2017