A former Columbus Urban League official admitted yesterday in federal court that he'd stolen thousands of dollars from the league through a seven-year invoicing scheme.
A former Columbus Urban League official admitted yesterday in federal court that he’d stolen thousands of dollars from the league through a seven-year invoicing scheme.
Ovell K. Harrison, 55, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity fraud, charges that carry an automatic two-year sentence and could send him to prison for as long as 30 years.
Harrison, of 57 E. Mithoff St. in Merion Village, was the director of education services at the Urban League when he began to create false invoices and submit them for payment, said special agent Brian Acklin of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General.
Each invoice listed a service that a contractor supposedly had done for the league.
Harrison listed one of four people whose identities he had stolen as the contractor on each invoice, Acklin said. Then Harrison had the payments for the nonexistent services sent to bank accounts he controlled.
He collected $85,181 between 2004 and 2010, Acklin said.
Investigators learned of the scheme after one of the identity-theft victims filed a Columbus police report and a television reporter aired a story about the possible Urban League connection.
The league, Acklin said, receives most of its funds from the federal government, including the Labor Department.
“We were glad we could get a bad apple out of an agency that gets federal funds,” Acklin said yesterday after explaining the scheme in court.
Harrison did not make a statement about the crime but told U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley that he has a master’s degree in divinity and is the pastor for the Messiah Worship Center in Columbus.
A sentencing date has not been set. Harrison has been released on his own recognizance.