COVINGTON, Ga. - Former Covington Housing Authority administrative manager Erica D. Morris was sentenced Thursday on charges of making more than $35,000 in personal purchases on a Housing Authority credit card.
Morris was sentenced to two years of probation with six months to serve on home confinement, 40 hours of community service, $100 special assessment and $36,604.88 in restitution, Bob Page, public affairs officers with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia, told The Covington News.
Page said his office would not be commenting on the case.
“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 a September 2017 news release. “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 in the release. “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 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.