The Oregon Halfway House (OHH) is a 75-bed transition center for federal prisoners located in Portland, Oregon. The program “provides job placement assistance, counseling, and a safe and drug-free home environment through contract correctional housing services to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Probation [Office],” according to the OHH’s most recent tax statement. In 2009, OHH reported revenue of $2.6 million.
In June 2010, OHH’s board of directors learned about undisclosed financial problems within the organization and launched an investigation, according to OHH board president and Oregon federal public defender Steve Wax.
The investigation led to the termination of OHH executive director Laura Edwards, 38, for embezzlement. “The board removed Ms. Edwards and referred [the investigative findings] to the United States Attorney’s Office for investigation and possible
prosecution,” said Wax. She is accused of misappropriating $160,000 to $214,000, in part by using a business debit card to make purchases from the Adoption Shoppe – an online store that she owned.
Edwards, whose salary and benefits totaled $107,000 in 2009, could not be reached for comment. However, she stated in an e-mail to Wax that she was “deeply, deeply sorry” for her actions. She had been fired from her previous job with Cornell Industries, a California-based halfway house, also for embezzlement.
Edwards is reportedly the subject of a criminal investigation; FBI agents seized items from her home in July 2010, but she has not yet been charged with a crime or arrested.
OHH financial officer Jim Reinhardt also left the organization shortly after Edwards’ wrongdoing was exposed, but board members declined to say whether he resigned or was terminated, or if his departure was linked to the embezzlement investigation.
Source: The Oregonian
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