COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A former Columbus Urban League official has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for fraud and identity theft.
Ovell Harrison of Columbus must also pay back more than $85,000 he was accused of stealing from the nonprofit organization. Federal authorities say he created false invoices for work by contractors, then took the Urban League payments for himself.
Harrison, 55, served as director of education services for the Columbus Urban League in 2004-2010. A U.S. District Court judge on Friday sentenced Harrison to 42 months in prison, three years’ probation, and to pay restitution to the Columbus Urban League and its insurance company.
Judge Algenon L. Marbley also gave Harrison a tongue-lashing, saying he pocketed money that could have helped provide housing, child care and job assistance for the needy.
“People like you come along and give people hope, and then take it away because it’s convenient for you,” Marbley said. “I want you to think about the people who were victimized, who more often than not are forgotten.”
The Columbus Dispatch reported that Marbley spoke in a loud, angry voice.
Harrison, also a local church leader, told the judge he feels remorse for his actions “every morning” and apologized.
He will surrender to begin his sentence at a date to be determined. Harrison pleaded guilty last September to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
“We will prosecute those who violate a position of trust to serve people who need what social services agencies deliver using federal funds,” U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart said in a statement.
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