James Tyrell Harris, a South Los Angeles anti-gang activist, was arrested for allegedly misappropriating $85,000 in city funds. While serving as chairman and treasurer of the Empowerment Congress Southwest Area Neighborhood Development Council, Harris is said to have made unauthorized withdrawals and purchases for travel expenses and hiring his daughter for administrative work.
Harris already has two prior felony convictions for robbery in Los Angeles during the 1980s. Although Harris could face up to 25 years to life in prison because of the two previous strikes, Los Angeles prosecutors believe this is unlikely because the nature of the crime was not violent. Harris is not the first neighborhood council member to be accused of misappropriating funds in Los Angeles; four others within the last two years have also been charged. These recent trends have alerted officials of the need for more supervision of Los Angeles neighborhood councils given city funds.
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