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Federal Halfway House Director Embezzles $213,787

A former Oregon halfway house director who embezzled more than $213,000 from the federally-funded facility was arrested in Rhode Island after failing to appear, fleeing and attempting suicide. She later pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

As previously reported in PLN, Laura Marie Edwards, 39, served as executive director of the Oregon Halfway House (OHH), now known as the Northwest Regional Re-Entry Center, from 2007 until 2010, when she was fired on suspicion that she had embezzled from the facility. [See: PLN, Jan. 2011, p.42].

In 2009, Edwards received a salary and benefits totaling $107,000. Yet she stole $213,787 from OHH, in part by using a business debit card to make purchases from the Adoption Shoppe – an online store that she owned.

Edwards admitted to OHH Board President and Oregon Federal Public Defender Steven Wax that she previously had been fired from Cornell Industries, a California-based halfway house, also for misappropriating funds.

On June 27, 2011, Edwards was scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge Ancer L. Haggerty to enter a plea to the embezzlement charge. She failed to appear, however, and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Within days, Edwards was hospitalized in Rhode Island following an apparent suicide attempt, according to federal officials. She was arrested and held in Providence, Rhode Island before being returned to Oregon.

On January 9, 2012, the district court accepted Edwards’ plea of guilty. She admitted that “Between March 2008 and June 2010, in the District of Oregon and elsewhere, I did knowingly embezzle, steal and obtain by fraud an amount greater than $120,000” from OHH. She has not yet been sentenced. See: United States v. Edwards, U.S.D.C. (D. Ore.), Case No. 3:11-cr-00241-HA.

Source: The Oregonian

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Related legal case

United States v. Edwards