Suit: Nonprofit execs spent federal funding on themselves

Posted: August 01, 2014

THEY WERE supposed to help the homeless, not themselves.

Two former executives of SELF Inc., a nonprofit that provides shelter and drug-and-alcohol-recovery programs for the city's homeless, were charged yesterday with using their corporate credit cards for personal expenses, according to an indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Erica Brown, 38, of Glenolden, Delaware County, and Nathaniel Robinson, 62, of Philadelphia, both racked up six-figure charges on their individual cards, spending federal funds meant to support SELF Inc.'s operations, according to the indictment.

Brown, the nonprofit's chief operating officer, treated herself to UGG boots, trips to (and swank meals at) destinations in the Caribbean and Florida, Wawa hoagies and sessions with a personal trainer, the indictment alleges.

Her expenses weighed in at nearly $200,000 between April 2005 and November 2010.

Robinson, SELF Inc.'s chief program officer, spent nearly $160,000 on his card between January 2006 and November 2010.

He splurged on shoes at DSW, Foot Locker and Modell's, took his family to Disney World, and even paid for parking tickets he received at Six Flags Great Adventure and Wildwood's Morey's Piers, according to the indictment.

"Every organization that receives taxpayer funding must act as responsible stewards of that money," Philadelphia Inspector General Amy Kurland said in a statement. "This case sends a strong message that misappropriating taxpayer money will not be tolerated."

Brown and Robinson were fired in November 2010. They've since paid back some of the pilfered funds: nearly $5,000 for Brown, and about $2,600 for Robinson, according to the indictment.

If convicted, they could each face up to 10 years in prison, as well as full restitution of the money spent.

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