Convicted Housing Authority manager blames agency's corrupt culture for her crimes?
Kerri Bizzell, a former Philadelphia Housing Authority manager, and her defense attorney on Wednesday blamed the PHA's culture of corruption for Bizzell's past criminal behavior in which she extorted $25,000 from two contractors.
"Ms. Bizzell learned her behavior from those people who were in more senior positions than she," her federal defender, Elizabeth Toplin, told U.S. District Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg at Bizzell's sentencing hearing.
Bizzell, 43, said she was transferred from the construction department to her position managing contracts after she had an affair with "an executive" at the PHA. The affair began the downward spiral of her marriage and the executive became insulted, she said.
In her new post, "I started to get involved in un-Christian-like behavior," Bizzell said. "I solicited certain individuals to do contracts. I changed documents. All of those instructions came from superiors."
In sentencing Bizzell, Goldberg didn't buy her shifting of blame. He sentenced her to four years and two months in a federal lockup. She was also ordered to repay PHA $25,000 in restitution and to be supervised for three years after her release. She will start her prison term in 60 days.
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