Feds fed million or more tax dollars to two sisters who milked non-profits dry and declared bankruptcy

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FRAUDThat cesspool of crime, corruption and waste: Baltimore, Md.

Sisters Charged in Separate Indictments for Allegedly Embezzling from Non-Profit Organizations
Victim Non-Profits Provided Services to the Homeless, Disadvantaged Children, and a Baltimore Community

BALTIMORE, MD—A federal grand jury has indicted Sharon Harrison, age 48, of Rosedale, Maryland, for embezzling more than $1.3 million from four non-profit organizations for which she worked and which received federal funding. Her sister, Kimberly Harrison, age 46, also of Rosedale, was charged in a separate indictment with embezzling funds from a federally funded non-profit organization she founded. She was also charged with bankruptcy fraud. Both indictments were returned in November of 2014.

The indictments were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Cary A. Rubenstein of the Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General; and Robert H. Pearre, Jr., Inspector General, City of Baltimore Office of Inspector General.

“Non-profit organizations that receive federal funds have a legal duty to use them for the intended purpose,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Sharon Harrison and Kimberly Harrison allegedly helped themselves to federal funds intended to provide services for disadvantaged children and homeless families in Baltimore.”

According to her four-count indictment Sharon Harrison was a bookkeeper or fiscal manager for the following non-profit groups, all of which received federal funds to assist in their mission:

  • Health, Education, Advocacy, Life Inc. (HEAL) from 2005 to March 2011;
  • Between Friends, Inc. from September 2008 to November 2011;
  • Jobs, Housing & Recovery, Inc. (JHR) from May 20, 2013 to February 12, 2014; and
  • Reservoir Hill Improvement Council (RHIC) from December 2012 to February 2014.

HEAL and JHR provided services for the homeless in Baltimore City. Between Friends, founded by Kimberly Harrison, assisted disadvantaged children to find foster homes and provided services to the children and their foster families. RHIC assessed community needs, developed and implemented solutions on issues common to the Reservoir Hill Community in Baltimore.

The indictment alleges that over the course of her employment at HEAL, RHIC, JHR and Between Friends, Sharon Harrison embezzled over $1.3 million. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of $1,306,797.70, believed to be the proceeds of the scheme.

Health Education Advocacy Life (HEAL): Hagar’s House information provided by: Baltimore Mental Health Systems Inc.

Provides services for the homeless. Programs include intake assessment/referral, case management, educational programming and job readiness, and child care/Headstart

“When we learn about individuals who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of HUD programs designed to help out those who have a great need for help to survive, we vigorously investigate these individuals to ensure they are removed from a position to place the public and HUD programs at financial harm. We would like to thank our law enforcement partners from the FBI and the Inspector General’s Office for the City of Baltimore for their superb investigative efforts,” said Special Agent in Charge Cary A. Rubenstein of the Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, Mid-Atlantic Region.

Kimberly Harrison’s two-count indictment alleges that she embezzled over $100,000 from Between Friends, which she founded and operated from 2008 to 2012, including $60,264 which she stole from September 2011 to September 2012. Also, according to her indictment, when Kimberly Harrison filed for bankruptcy on June 28, 2012, she did not disclose the approximately $45,514 she had received from Between Friends, Inc., in the form of both checks made payable to Harrison directly, and checks made payable to her landlord for Harrison’s monthly rent payments, from June 2011 until the filing of her petition. Harrison also allegedly failed to list as an asset a 2009 Lexus RX350 that she purchased for $31,037.88 on June 23, 2012, just five days prior to filing her petition.

Sharon and Kimberly Harrison each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each count of federal program theft. Kimberly Harrison also faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for bankruptcy fraud. An initial appearance has not been scheduled for either of the Harrisons in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, HUD-OIG and Baltimore Office of Inspector General, for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Leo J. Wise, who is prosecuting the case.

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