ATLANTA – Erica D. Morris has been charged with making more than $35,000 in personal purchases on a merchant credit card that the Covington Housing Authority issued her for work-related purchases.
“Morris abused her position with Covington Housing Authority by ringing up more than $35,000 in personal charges,” U.S. Attorney John A. Horn said. “In effect, Morris diverted money earmarked for the low-income families for which the Covington Housing Authority provides housing into her own pocket.”
“The actions taken today should serve as a strong notice of our continuing commitment to root out all forms of fraud, especially as it relates to federal housing resources directed to assist less fortunate American families,” Nadine E. Gurley, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, said. “We remain steadfast in working with the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue any unscrupulous individuals that may seek to use their position in order to gain an illegal personal benefit.”
According to 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.
Erica D. Morris, 34, of Covington, has been charged in a criminal information with one count of Federal Program Theft. Morris is expected to plead guilty to the charge shortly after arraignment.
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.