By Prison Legal News
A former halfway house director, who embezzled up to $213,787 from a federally-funded non-profit Oregon halfway house, pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
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 she was fired in 2010. The facility houses federal prisoners prior to their release from custody. [See: PLN, March 2012, p.33; Jan. 2011, p.42].
Edwards’ troubles began when the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) alerted the OHH Board of Directors that she should be relieved of her duties. BOP officials would not elaborate, but OHH commenced an internal investigation and turned its findings over to the FBI.
The investigation revealed that Edwards had funneled up to $213,787 of OHH’s funds into her personal bank account. According to court records, she misused an OHH debit card meant for business purchases to buy items from the Adoption Shoppe – an online store that she owned.
Edwards also admitted to OHH Board President and Federal Public Defender Steven Wax that she previously had been fired as the regional director of Cornell Industries, a California-based halfway house, for embezzling about $90,000.