Former Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, treasurer pleads guilty to embezzlement

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2015 5:28 PM

By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - The former treasurer of Pennsylvania's financially troubled capital city of Harrisburg pleaded guilty on Monday to embezzling from two non-profit groups.

John Campbell, 27, who was elected in 2011 and resigned last year after his arrest, is expected to receive probation at his sentencing on Sept. 15, lawyers for both sides said.

“My office agreed that if he accepted full responsibility, which he did by pleading guilty today, and makes all restitution prior to sentencing, I would not object to probation,” said Dauphin County Assistant District Attorney Joel Hogentogler.

The punishment is expected to include a total of $29,000 in restitution, said the prosecutor and Campbell's attorney, Adam Klein. The money will go to Historic Harrisburg Association, where Campbell was executive director for four years and which did business with the city, and Capital Region Stonewall Democrats, where he was treasurer.

Campbell appeared on Monday before Judge Scott Evans in Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas and pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft and one count of charitable fraud, a misdemeanor. Several other charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

Prosecutors said Campbell wrote himself checks from the "Lighten Up Harrisburg" account, which collected public donations, including from a 5-K run, to replace burned-out city streetlights and decrepit light poles.

He allegedly used the stolen money to pay medical and student loan debts.

After he was charged with embezzlement, Campbell resigned on Sept. 2, 2014, as Harrisburg city treasurer, a part-time job paying $20,000 a year. A subsequent audit did not find any missing city funds, city officials said.

In 2011, reeling under a mountain of debt tied to renovations of the city trash incinerator, Harrisburg filed for bankruptcy. The filing was later thrown out after the state passed a law making Harrisburg ineligible for bankruptcy.

(Reporting by David DeKok; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Beech)